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Europe: Shares hit five-month low as tariff woes loom

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[MILAN] European shares fell on Thursday as fresh losses in emerging markets and worries Washington will follow through on plans to levy an extra US$200 billion of Chinese imports kept investors on the edge.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 benchmark hit its lowest level since early April in early trading and was down 0.3 per cent by 0714 GMT, while Germany's DAX and the UK's FTSE fell 0.3 and 0.2 per cent respectively.

A consultation period on the proposal to slap fresh tariffs on China ends on Thursday, paving the way for a decision although it is unclear how quickly that will happen.

Most sectors were trading in the red but basic resources stocks led the fall, dragged by a more than 3 per cent drop in miner BHP Billiton, which traded ex-dividend.

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Utilities were a bright spot with Italy's state-controlled Enel rising 1.6 per cent after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to buy, while in the UK, Centrica added 3.7 per cent after the local regulator set an energy price cap that was at the lower range of analysts' expectations.

Top gainer on the STOXX was Safran which rose to a fresh record high after the world's No. 3 aerospace supplier raised full-year forecasts following better-than-expected results in the first half on strong demand for spares and services.

Weir Group led fallers, down 5.9 per cent after the maker of pipes for the energy and mining industries said there were initial signs of pricing pressure. 

REUTERS