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Europe: Shares dip, Glencore slides to 3-year low

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Most European shares ended slightly lower on Thursday amid mixed signals on a US-China "phase-one" trade deal, while a slide in Glencore shares on a bribery investigation tied in with a strong pound to push London's benchmark index to near two-month lows.

[LONDON] Most European shares ended slightly lower on Thursday amid mixed signals on a US-China "phase-one" trade deal, while a slide in Glencore shares on a bribery investigation tied in with a strong pound to push London's benchmark index to near two-month lows.

German shares also underperformed peers throughout the day after data showed industrial orders fell unexpectedly in October, suggesting a manufacturing downturn will continue to hold back growth in Europe's largest economy in the final quarter.

Stocks around the globe have been on a roller coaster ride this week as investors struggled to demystify messages from US President Donald Trump on the trade war.

Mr Trump's comments swung wildly with him saying talks with China were going "very well" at one meeting, while warning that the deal may come only after elections in Nov 2020 at another.

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Market voices on:

"Traders are have become a bit nervous again," said David Madden, an analyst with CMC Markets.

"You cannot be optimistic and bullish when there isn't clear positive news about this (US-China trade)."

The increasing sensitivity to trade headlines comes as Dec 15 closes in when a further set of US tariffs on Chinese goods is set to take effect unless a deal is struck.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.1 per cent after a stellar rally on Wednesday, and was mainly dragged by a slump in commodity-linked stocks.

Glencore dropped 9 per cent to its lowest since October 2016 after Britain's Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation concerning "suspicions of bribery", the latest addition to the commodity trading giant's legal woes.

That, along with a pound that zoomed on growing confidence that next week's election will give the Conservative Party the parliamentary majority needed to deliver Brexit, pushed Britain's FTSE 0.7 per cent lower.

Elsewhere, Moncler jumped 6.5 per cent after Bloomberg reported that Gucci-owner Kering held "exploratory" talks about a potential deal with the Italian luxury puffer coat maker. The news also boosted its local peers Salvatore Ferragamo and Tod's.

Moncler's chief executive, however, played down the speculation saying there was no deal in the works.

The rally in luxury stocks come as a relief after pulling back on Tuesday when Washington threatened punitive duties of up to 100 per cent on champagne, handbags and other imports from France.

Novartis was among the biggest boosts to the STOXX 600. The drugmaker's chief executive said the firm is planning more than 80 major submissions to regulators for drug approvals from 2020-2022.

REUTERS