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Europe: Shares rise as retail stocks rally

European shares fell on Thursday following two sessions of gains, with sentiment depressed by continued weakness in oil prices, which briefly dipped below the key $30 level, and worries over global economic growth.

[LONDON] European shares climbed higher on Tuesday after a key equity index had hit its lowest level in more than three months, with a rally in retailers following some positive company updates underpinning the market.

Shares in Morrisons surged 12 per cent after Britain's No. 4 supermarket group beat expectations for Christmas trading, reporting a first period of positive underlying sales since 2012.

Debenhams also climbed 15 per cent after the department store chain posted higher than expected sales in the last 19 weeks, driven by strong Christmas trading and growing online shopping.

Shares in Tesco rose 5 per cent in line with a rally in retail stocks, while Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer shares also gained ground.

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The pan-European blue-chip FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.4 per cent, after having fallen earlier in the session to its lowest level since late September.

However, market sentiment remained fragile on further volatility in Chinese markets and lingering concerns about the pace of economic growth in the world's second largest economy.

China's equity markets, which tumbled 10 per cent last week and a further 5 per cent on Monday, remained volatile. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.2 per cent, while the CSI300 index rose 0.7 per cent.