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Europe: Shares slip from 15-month highs as oils, banks fall


[LONDON] European shares retreated slightly from 15-month highs on Monday with lower crude prices weighing on oil stocks and Deutsche Bank dragging banks lower one day before the start of its 8 billion-euro cash call.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended 0.2 per cent lower, after hitting its highest level since December 2015 last week in a rally driven by better economic data, good company earnings and merger and acquisition activity.

But caution prevailed on Monday after the leaders of the world's biggest economies dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States after a two-day meeting failed to yield a compromise.

The oil and gas index was the biggest sectoral loser, down 1.1 per cent, as crude prices fell on rising US drilling activity and steady supplies from Opec countries.

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The biggest drags on the index were Britain's Tullow Oil, and oil majors Total, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil, which fell between 0.7 and 2.4 per cent.

Banks were also under pressure, down 0.6 per cent.

Deutsche Bank fell 3.7 per cent after the German lender disclosed terms of its 8 billion euro cash call, its fourth capital increase since 2010. The recapitalisation, aimed at funding a strategy overhaul, will start on Tuesday.

German luxury group Hugo Boss was the top European faller, down 4.7 per cent after GBL, the holding company of Belgium's richest man, Albert Frere, released full-year results on Friday with no holding in the firm - dashing rumours of a stake that had boosted the stock last month.

Elsewhere, Vodafone shares closed down 0.4 per cent after news that Vodafone and India's Idea Cellular had agreed to merge their Indian operations.

"Shares are virtually unmoved on the announcement... as investors wait for what's expected to be a fairly downbeat set of annual results in May," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

Top gainer in Europe was the frozen baked goods maker Aryzta , up 5.1 per cent after Berenberg upgraded its rating on the stock to 'buy', saying the company's change of senior management and review of its holding in French frozen food retailer Picard were signs it was turning a corner.

Aryzta lost two-thirds of its market value in late January when it issued a profit warning.

Ingenico rose as much as 4.5 per cent before turning lower by 3.1 per cent, in heavy volume, after Atos formally denied a report it was preparing an offer for the French payments company.