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Europe: Shares fall for seventh day on US election worries

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[MILAN] European shares fell for a seventh straight day on Tuesday, led lower by weaker financial stocks, as uncertainty about next week's US presidential election weighed.

The Stoxx 600 fell 1.1 per cent, with no sector ending in positive territory. The losing streak is the longest since February, although the pan-European index remained within the narrow trading range it has been moving in for 15 weeks.

Traders said uncertainty over the US vote was fuelled by a Washington Post-ABC News poll that gave Republican candidate Donald Trump a slight lead over his rival Hillary Clinton, as Democratic support dipped.

"A poll from ABC that gave Trump a slender lead over Clinton has been the catalyst for some fairly significant risk-off moves," said ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

"Given how far ahead in the polls Clinton was very recently, the fact that we're talking about a close race again is clearly rattling investors ... we can expect more volatility in the coming week."

Europe's volatility index rose 9 per cent to its highest point since late September.

Basic Resources outperformed as investors sought refuge in precious metals miners such as Polymetal and Fresnillo, which rose sharply as prices of gold, silver and platinum rallied to one-month highs on concerns over the outcome of the US election.

Traders said a recent pull-back in crude oil prices and uncertainty over a Dec 4 constitutional referendum in Italy also weighed on equities in Europe. Italy's blue-chip index underperformed to fall 1.3 per cent, while the country's borrowing costs hit eight month highs.

Elsewhere activity was driven by earning updates.

Royal Dutch Shell rose 3.7 per cent after the oil major reported an 18-per cent rise in underlying net profit, beating analysts' forecasts and saying that next year's capital spend will be at the bottom end of the expected range.

The move in Shell contrasted with BP, which was down 4.5 per cent. While BP's underlying replacement cost profit, the company's definition of net income, beat expectations, traders said that was largely on the back of a one-off tax credit while upstream results came in below forecasts.

In a weaker banking sector, Standard Chartered fell 5.4 per cent after the British lender reported faltering income in the third quarter. While the bank posted a second consecutive quarter of profitability, it also flagged fresh compliance and regulatory challenges after confirming Hong Kong's financial regulator planned to take action against it.

"Much work has yet to be done by the management in order to see some margin for growth and uplift in key markets," said Atif Latif, director at Guardian Stockbrokers.

"The emerging market space continues to remain tough and although loan impairments have started to improve we need to see evidence of easing pressure in revenue and (earnings) estimates."

Top riser was Moneysupermarket Group, up 10.3 per cent, its best day in three years, after the price comparison site reported strong trading and revenue growth.

Tyre maker Nokian and consumer goods firm Orkla also rose after earnings.