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Europe: Greek deal helps European shares rebound, but retailers continue slide


[LONDON] European shares bounced back from two days of losses on Friday, as financial stocks were helped by a Greek debt deal that further eased political uncertainty in the euro zone, but competition worries hit Europe's retailers.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.7 per cent higher, while the FTSE gained 0.6 per cent and Germany's DAX was up 0.5 per cent.

"Greece and their creditors have reached an agreement concerning the next tranche of bailout money which should be supportive for stocks as it removes some uncertainty going forward," City of London Markets trader Markus Huber said.

Euro zone governments threw Greece another 11th-hour credit lifeline worth 8.5 billion euros (S$13.11 billion) late on Thursday and sketched new detail on possible debt relief as the IMF finally offered to help out after two years of hesitation.

Greek stocks rose 0.8 per cent to a two-year high, with some analysts saying they expected any debt relief deal to unlock more value from Greek stocks.

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European retailers, however, extended their slide from the previous session, reaching a two-month low after Amazon said it would buy US organic supermarket chain Whole Foods and worries of increased competition hit the sector.

Shares in Dutch supermarket chain Ahold Delhaize dropped 9.5 per cent, and Tesco ended 4.9 per cent lower after rising in early deals.

Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, released a first-quarter update that showed UK like-for-like sales growth of 2.3 per cent that beat analyst expectations. But it later pared gains as its weak international same-store sales overshadowed the strong UK performance.

The retail sector in Europe suffered sharp falls in the previous session, when H&M sales disappointed and UK data showed consumers were feeling the impact of rising inflation.

Nestle made strong gains, leading the food and beverage sector with a three-per cent rise after saying it might sell its US$900 million-a-year US confectionery business, in a move that Morgan Stanley said was a "clear positive" following disappointment earlier this year when the group ditched its sales target.

Italian banks were a weak spot, after news that investment funds Fortress and Elliott had dropped out of talks to buy troubled Italian lender Monte dei Paschi's bad loans.

Shares in Bper Banca and Banco BPM were among the biggest fallers, while Spain's Bankia was hit by a downgrade from Barclays. The banking sector was up just 0.1 per cent, paring earlier gains.

European shares ended lower for the second straight week, as worries over slowing economic growth and rich valuations halted a rally that brought the Stoxx near two-year highs in May.


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