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Europe: Shares led lower by oil stocks, M&S shines

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European shares retreated on Wednesday as a drop in crude prices weighed on energy companies, while retailer Marks & Spencer was among the biggest gainers after its trading update.

[MILAN] European shares retreated on Wednesday as a drop in crude prices weighed on energy companies, while retailer Marks & Spencer was among the biggest gainers after its trading update.

By 0713 GMT, the pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.5 per cent, pulling back from a 3-1/2 month high hit in the previous session, while the FTSE declined 0.3 per cent from a record high reached on Tuesday.

The energy index, the biggest sectoral gainer so far this year in Europe, fell 1.7 per cent as the possibility of higher Opec output sent oil prices lower.

Shares in oil majors Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell fell between 1.6 and 2 per cent.

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Marks & Spencer rose 5.3 per cent after it reported full-year results.

Banks were in focus after the Financial Times reported that Barclays is exploring a potential merger with rival banks, including Standard Chartered. Sources close to the bank told Reuters that Barclays was not exploring a potential merger.

Barclays shares were little changed, while Standard Chartered rose 1.9 percent.

Italy's FTSE MIB fell 1.3 per cent, underperforming the broader European market on ongoing political worries.

REUTERS