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Europe: Shares fall after oil output deal disappoints

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[MILAN] European shares fell on Tuesday after two sessions of strong gains, with disappointment over a deal to tackle a global oil supply glut dampening sentiment.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.4 per cent, reversing initial gains and following a 6 per cent rise made over the last two sessions. The euro zone's blue-chip index Eurostoxx 50 index slid by the same amount.

Top oil exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed on Tuesday to freeze output levels, but said the deal was contingent on other producers joining in - a major sticking point. Iran was absent from the talks and is determined to raise production. "This agreement needs the nod from other Opec and non-Opec nations, which seems unlikely," said Stephane Ekolo, Chief European Strategist at Market Securities. "Therefore market participants turned cautious again and risk-off sentiment is back on."

The decision, which pushed crude oil prices down, comes after more than 18 months of declining oil prices in which benchmark crude futures prices have dropped by two-thirds on concerns about oversupply and a slowing global economy.

Shares in oil stocks came off highs but some remained in positive territory. BP and Total advanced 1.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively, while Eni fell 0.75 per cent.

Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Geneva-based Prime Partners, said he believed oil prices will rise further down the road, adding that his stocks in the sector were Total and Exxon, while BP is also interesting.

Banks were led lower by Standard Chartered, which retreated by 5.3 per cent after several brokerages cut their target prices following a recent rally.

Elsewhere in the sector, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank fell 2.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Some brokerages cut their target prices on both stocks with traders saying the recent gains were overdone.

Along with other Italian banks, Monte dei Paschi managed to reverse initial losses to surge 12 per cent. Some investors said the stocks offered attractive valuations but caution over the sector remained.

JP Morgan analysts said they would not buy into the European banking sector, given pressures on banks' profitability from negative interest rates and weak financial markets.

The FTSEurofirst remains down by 11 per cent since the start of 2016 because of worries over a global economic slowdown and the health of Europe's banking sector.

Shares in Vodafone added 0.7 per cent after the British phone network operator agreed to combine operations in the Netherlands with Liberty Global, with Vodafone paying 1 billion euros in cash to Liberty.

Shares in Telecom Italia fell 6.5 per cent after its quarterly core profit missed expectations, and were further depressed by Orange saying it had no plans to merge with the Italian rival.