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Europe: Shares dip at start of trading

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[LONDON] European shares dipped on Monday with the autos sector hitting its lowest level this year after anti-trust regulators opened an investigation into regional carmakers while worries on escalating price wars hurt airlines.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.2 per cent as gains in the heavyweight financials sector helped offset losses elsewhere. Euro zone bluechips also fell 0.2 per cent.

Gemalto plummeted as much as 17 per cent, the worst performer on the day, after the digital security company warned on profits for the fourth time since October on Friday after trading, citing continued weakness in its SIM-card and US payments operations.

Budget airline Ryanair fell 4.7 per cent, a top European loser, after it warned summer fares would face sharp cuts, though it reported profit soared 55 per cent in its first quarter.

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Shares in carmakers across Europe fell after European Union antitrust regulators said they were investigating allegations of a cartel amongst them.

Volkswagen, Peugeot, Daimler , Renault and BMW all fell 1.2 to 2.5 per cent, sending the autos index down 1.6 per cent, the worst-performing sector.

Among leading gainers was B&M European Value Retail , up 4.1 per cent after a report that Asda, the British supermarket arm of US retail giant Wal-Mart, was considering a £4.4 billion(S$7.79 billion) takeover bid.

Switzerland's third largest private bank Julius Baer jumped 6.5 per cent after reporting its biggest inflows since the financial crisis for its first half, helped by a push to recruit more private bankers.