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Europe: Shares slip as pull-back in banks, miners weighs

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[LONDON] European shares fell slightly on Thursday, weighed down by a pull-back in banking and mining stocks in a day where trading activity was dominated by a raft of company earnings.

Shares in British bank Barclays reversed course during the day to end down 2.6 per cent, as a surprise boost to its capital reserves failed to convince.

Some analysts flagged concerns over the sustainability of the bank's capital level in relation to the accounting treatment of its British pension scheme.

Losses in Barclays and in HSBC, which continued its slide after a disappointing update earlier this week, resulted in a 1 per cent fall for Europe's banking index.

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The Basic Resources index was another weak spot, down 1.5 per cent, tracking weaker metal prices and weighed down by a drop in heavyweight Rio Tinto which went ex dividend. Copper prices tumbled as worries about demand in China resurfaced after the country's housing minister suggested moves were afoot to stabilise the property market.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended down 0.1 per cent after hitting a 14-month high in the previous session.

Germany's DAX fell 0.4 per cent. There was little impact earlier in the session from data which confirmed the country's economy quadrupled its growth rate to 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter.

Dialog Semiconductor surged 6.9 per cent, the biggest gainer on the Stoxx. The maker of chips that go in Apple's and Samsung's smartphones said it expected "good revenue growth" in 2017.

British shopping centre landlord Intu Properties was up 6.8 per cent after hiking its dividend for the first time in five years, while insurer RSA was up 4.8 per cent after posting a 25 per cent rise in 2016 operating profit and raising its return on equity target.

Technicolor however fell 7 per cent, the biggest decliner on the Stoxx, after the French media and entertainment company reported a net loss.

French water and waste group Veolia dropped 5.8 per cent after pushing back its forecast for core earnings by a year.

Around 55 per cent companies in the Stoxx 600 have reported fourth quarter results so far, of which 56 per cent have met and 3 per cent have beaten analyst forecasts.