European shares close lower; data weighs

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – European shares fell on Tuesday after U.S. consumer confidence data and house price figures unexpectedly dipped, with banks in Europe the worst performers.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top shares provisionally closed down 1.3 percent at 1,010.29 points after being up as much as 1,029.80 earlier.

Banks took the most points off the index. Commerzbank (CBKG.DE: ) fell 6.6 percent after it reported a wider than expected fourth-quarter loss.

Raiffeisen International (RIBH.VI: ) shed 12.2 percent of its value after investors feared a possible merger with parent RZB (RZB.UL: ) could slow growth at the lender.

“The confidence figure was hugely shy of expectations and the house price index was down for the third month in a row, demonstrating a loss of momentum. That is not positive,” said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin.

“The German business sentiment figure was also disappointing. Germany is a big leader in the euro zone and this is clearly not a great sign.”

U.S. consumer confidence fell in February to its lowest reading in 10 months, while U.S. home prices unexpectedly slipped in December. German business sentiment had fallen for the first time in almost a year in February, data showed.

Commodity stocks were under pressure. Oil groups BP (BP.L: ) and Total (TOTF.PA: ) slipped 1.7 percent and 2.1 percent respectively, while miners Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) lost 2.7 to 3.6 percent.

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(Reporting by Joanne Frearson, editing by Atul Prakash)

European shares close lower; data weighs