Greek shares lead Europe lower after debt talks break down
* Greek shares down 4.6 pct after rescue talks collapse * Euro STOXX 50 down 1.3 pct, FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.6 pct * Danish jewellery maker Pandora surges after earnings beat By Francesco Canepa LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Athens stocks led declines on European share indexes on Tuesday after debt talks between Greece and euro zone finance ministers broke down, putting the country's future in the euro zone at risk. The Athex index was down 4.6 percent by 0837 GMT, with Greek banks down 9.3 percent. Euro zone banks, which have a large exposure to the region's sovereign debt market, shed 1.7 percent. After the market close on Monday, Greece rejected a proposal for a six-month extension of its international bailout package as "unacceptable". Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chaired the meeting, said Athens had until Friday to request an extension, otherwise the bailout would expire at the end of the month. "It's a big risk and the pressure is immense," said Joost Van Leenders, chief economist of multi-asset solutions at BNP Paribas Investment Partners. "The parties have to move and the room for manoeuvre is pretty small." To protect itself from a Greece-related selloff in stocks, BNP Paribas IP recently cut its "overweight" position in equities to "neutral" and bought an option to sell the Euro STOXX 50 index, Van Leenders said. The Euro STOXX 50 was down 1.3 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.6 percent at 1,493.77 points. On the earnings front, Danish jewellery maker and retailer Pandora surged 15 percent after it reported fourth-quarter operating profit above expectations, and said its profit margin will rise in 2015. Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v Today's European research round-up ($1 = 0.8817 euros) (editing by John Stonestreet)
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