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Europe: Shares flat amid trade and emerging market worries

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[LONDON] European shares ended little changed on Monday as worries about US trade policy and concern over emerging markets weighed on stocks after Asian markets closed lower.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index gained 0.05 per cent to 382.46 points. Activity was subdued as US markets were closed for Labour Day.

Stocks in Europe showed little reaction to a report that euro zone manufacturing growth had declined to its slowest pace in nearly two years.

London's FTSE 100 was the only trading centre in the black, ending up 0.8 per cent. A weaker pound provided an accounting boost for British blue chips.

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"With the US off for Labour Day there was little change to the European markets, the start to September (was) defined by sterling's slide," said Connor Campbell, an analyst for Spreadex.

Italian banks gained despite the rating agency Fitch reducing its outlook for Italy to negative on Friday.

The biggest mover was veterinary products group Dechra Pharmaceutical, which sank 21.4 per cent after publishing its full-year results and saying it was implementing a "hard Brexit" mitigation plan.

"What may be concerning the market are references to contingency plans for a ‘hard Brexit' and the fact an increasing number of distributors are focusing on the sale and marketing of their own products," said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

Belgian diaper manufacturer Ontex fell 19.5 per cent after rejecting a proposed cash offer for its outstanding shares from the private equity firm PAI Partners, saying it undervalued the company.

The best performance was posted by the Dutch offshore energy company SMB, which rose 10.7 per cent after announcing that it had reached a settlement in Brazil over alleged improper sales practices.

In France, the retailer Casino rose as much as 4 per cent after confirming its 2018 targets, only to reverse course and end down 3 per cent. Casino's shares fell 10 per cent on Friday amid concern over its debt, and it has been targeted by US short seller Muddy Waters.

Drug maker Sanofi gained 1.1 per cent after securing approval in Europe for a blood clotting disorder treatment using nanobodies.

REUTERS