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Europe: Stocks slip as banks slide, London shares jump

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[BENGALURU] European stock markets slipped for a second day on Thursday, weighed down by financial stocks and a sharp drop in French-Italian glasses company EssilorLuxottica.

Frankfurt, Madrid, Dublin and Paris all racked up losses, but in London, a surge in energy shares and a weaker pound drove the FTSE 100 up 0.9 per cent to a more than five-month high.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended just 0.04 per cent lower, with banks weaker after Wednesday's shift in US central bank policy and a warning from Switzerland's UBS about investment banking revenues.

Tensions between the French and Italian factions at the top of EssilorLuxottica knocked its shares, while chemicals group Bayer slid further after a second US court ruling against Roundup weedkiller.

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Market voices on:

"Today is a bit of a messy session with the dovishness of Fed from last night, US-China trade doubts and compelling Brexit developments over the last 24 hours," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

"The FTSE is definitely benefiting from the pound's rather severe slump, especially against the dollar and the fact that major commodity stocks have outperformed," Mr Campbell said.

Sterling was on course for its worst day so far this year.

London listed shares of mining firms BHP and Rio Tinto rose more than 1.5 per cent each, while oil and gas majors BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell climbed more than 1 per cent.

CHIPS ARE UP

Italian shares finished 0.2 per cent higher and chipmakers across Europe were boosted by a surprisingly upbeat outlook from US-based Micron Technology on Wednesday. Infineon rose more than 1 per cent, while STMicro jumped 4.4 per cent.

Some analysts stressed the longer-run hope offered to markets by both the Fed and the ECB's move to halt or even turn around monetary tightening.

"By turning as dovish as it has, the Fed perhaps creates better conditions for equities to perform well, for business sentiment to do better and that may come through in the euro area," said John Davies, G10 rates strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

"Against this backdrop there's also Brexit, which is reaching its most nervous moment."

French President Emmanuel Macron warned British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that Britain would face a disorderly departure from the European Union if she fails to get parliamentary approval for her deal at the third attempt next week.

REUTERS