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Europe: Shares snap losing streak after choppy day

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[MILAN] European shares rose on Thursday at the end of a choppy session that saw a key index hit a six-week low, with UK supermarket Morrisons leading gainers following a strong earnings update.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index, which had fallen for the last five days in a row amid concerns over tighter monetary policies, ended up 0.6 per cent.

The index slipped as much as 0.1 per cent earlier in the session to its lowest point since Aug 4, but later recovered as Wall Street rose on the back of lacklustre economic data which further slimmed chances of an immediate rate hike.

Futures prices reduced the chances of a Federal Reserve rate hike at the Sept 20-21 meeting to just 12 per cent from 15 per cent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Bankhaus Lampe strategist Ralf Zimmermann said he expected the Fed to raise rates in December or February but should there be an earlier hike it would be a negative surprise for many.

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He said was downbeat about the prospects for equities due to a mix of factors from softer economic data, stagnating earnings and political risks including Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum and the US election in November. "There is more short-term downside to come as risks continue to dominate. The next 10 per cent move is much more likely to be to the downside than to the upside," he said.

British supermarket operator Morrisons rose 7.5 per cent, the top performer on the STOXX 600, after the company returned to profit growth.

"A better-than-expected increase in like-for-like sales at Morrisons supermarkets saw the company deliver a very positive set of interim results which beat forecasts," said ETX Capital markets analyst Neil Wilson.

Zodiac Aerospace, which has issued a string of profit warnings over the last year, also rose sharply after reporting higher than expected full-year revenues.

Shares in Next fell 4.69 per cent, however, after the British clothing retailer warned of volatile trading as it reported a fall in first-half profits.

Rival H&M also fell 4.2 per cent after its sales growth missed analyst forecasts, while Italian luxury goods maker Tod's fell 6 per cent after posting a fall in first half core profits.

Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Geneva-based fund management and consultancy firm Prime Partners, said his firm had trimmed back its equity position, given the weak economic backdrop.

"The summer rally on equities was not really backed up by volumes and we are not out of the woods yet in terms of low economic growth," said Mr Savary.


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