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Europe: Shares end a choppy Brexit-led session with a whimper

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[LONDON] European shares ended flat on Tuesday after a choppy session during which hopes British Prime Minister Theresa May would win support for her plans for an orderly Brexit in an evening vote in Parliament gradually faded.

European bourses trimmed their morning gains and the pan-European index ended the day down 0.04 per cent while the euro zone's STOXX rose a mere 0.1 per cent.

Dublin's ISEQ, which typically falls on fears of a disorderly Brexit, edged up 0.25 per cent with investors still confident a no-deal Brexit will eventually be averted.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 per cent as a retreating pound provided an accounting boost to the big exporters that dominate the index.

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The British currency experienced heavy volatility, pushing blue chips in and out of positive territory.

"Sterling rode the proverbial Brexit rollercoaster on Tuesday," wrote Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Among individual stocks, French engineering firm Spie jumped 8.6 per cent after reporting stronger-than-expected net income.

Swiss drug retailer Galenica was also among top winners, gaining 6.2 per cent after full-year earnings and dividend beat the market's expectations.

German carmaker Volkswagen fell 1.8 per cent after reporting a decline in operating margins for its core VW brand and announcing it would introduce almost 70 new electric models by 2028.

Dutch payments firm Adyen dropped 5 percent after pre-IPO investors sold 2.5 million shares at a 9 per cent discount.

Overall, the fourth-quarter earnings season has been underwhelming. Over the past four months, analysts have cut their earnings growth expectations for 2019 from 9 per cent to just 5 per cent.

Swiss baked goods firm Aryzta jumped 9.75 per cent after it reported its US margin grew for the first time since 2014.

Outside results, Telecom Italia shares fell 5.9 per cent to the bottom of the FTSE MIB as a battle between two of its top shareholders, Vivendi and Elliott, ramped up ahead of an AGM later in the day.

REUTERS