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Europe: Shares inched higher ahead of Jackson Hole meet

[MILAN] Fresh worries over competition hit Ahold and other European retail stocks in opening deals on Friday as the broader market inched higher ahead of speeches by central bankers at the Jackson Hole gathering in the US.

Ahold fell 5 perc ent after online giant said it will cut prices on a range of goods as it completes its acquisition of Whole Foods Market.

The Dutch supermarket has a strong presence on the east coast of the US.

But gains among financials and a continued rally in Fiat Chrysler shares on ongoing merger talk helped support the broader market, sending the pan-European STOXX 600 index up 0.2 per cent by 0707 GMT. Britain's FTSE also rose by 0.2 per cent.

The retail index fell 0.8 per cent, leading sectoral fallers in the region. Elsewhere in the sector shares in French supermarkets Casino and Carrefour fell 0.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively, while Tesco and Sainsbury were also lower.

Provident Financial led gainers on the STOXX, up 8.2 per cent. The UK subprime lender, which has lost close to 60 per cent of its market value this week after a second profit warning in quick succession, said it had replaced the managing director of its beleaguered home credit business.