European shares open lower before ECB meeting

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© Reuters. The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt© Reuters. The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

MILAN (Reuters) – European shares fell on Thursday in cautious trade after the U.S. Fed sounded slightly hawkish overnight and ahead of an ECB meeting in which the central bank will debate the end of its huge asset purchases.

All sectors traded in negative territory with basic resources stocks (), down 1.3 percent, leading the fall following weaker data from big metals consumer China.

By 0715 GMT, the pan-European STOXX 600 () index was down 0.6 percent, while Britain’s FTSE () was down 0.6 percent and Germany’s DAX () fell 0.5 percent.

The European Central Bank will debate whether to end its huge asset purchases by year-end, in what would be its biggest step towards dismantling crisis-era stimulus credited with pulling the euro zone economy out of recession.

Bucking the broader weakness were shares in heavyweight drugmaker GSK (L:), up 1 percent. Investors welcomed news that its two-drug treatment for HIV met its main goal in late stage studies – a big win after regulators warned of possible birth defects from one of the two drugs.

Rolls-Royce (L:) was another bright spot, up 3.2 percent, after saying it would save 400 million pounds a year by cutting 4,600 jobs in its latest attempt to simplify the business and generate more cash.

On the DAX, Volkswagen (DE:) fell 0.9 percent after the carmaker was fined one billion euros over diesel emissions cheating.

Still in Germany, leasing company Grenke (DE:) announced a cash capital increase of up to 200 million euros. Its shares were among the leading losers on the STOXX, down 4.5 percent.

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