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Europe: Shares fall as North Korea nuclear test causes broad sell-off


[MILAN] The risk-off mood sparked by a powerful North Korean nuclear test hit European shares on Monday, triggering a broad sell-off, while Novartis fell following the news that its CEO will step down.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index and euro zone blue chips both fell 0.5 per cent and the UK's FTSE slipped 0.2 per cent.

No sector in Europe was trading in positive territory while banks led the declines, down 0.9 per cent. North Korea said an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile was tested on Sunday, prompting the warning of a "massive" military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.

Fiat Chrysler was among top fallers, down 2.2 per cent after its Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the car maker had not received any offer for the company nor was it working on any "big deal".

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Pharma heavyweight Novartis was down 0.7 per cent. The group said its chief executive Joseph Jimenez will retire in 2018, leaving to younger chief drug developer Vasant Narasimhan, 41, the task to run the company starting in February.

Novartis shares, which carry the third largest weigh on the MSCI Europe benchmark, have underperformed their sector over the last 10 years.

Among risers, precious metal miners Randgold and Fresnillo benefited from a flight to safe haven assets such as gold.