* FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.3 percent
* Novartis leads market lower after results
* Norsk Hydro up on better-than-expected earnings
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - European shares edged lower on Tuesday after hitting a six-week high in the previous session, with the healthcare sector leading the market lower after Novartis reported quarterly incomes below analysts’ expectations.
The STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare Index fell 1.0 percent, the top sectoral decliner in Europe, pressured by a 2.4 percent drop in Novartis after the Swiss drugmaker was hit by a weak performance by its eyecare division in the second-quarter.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,608.80 points by 0811 GMT after rising to a six-week high in the previous session.
“With Greece now having only a very limited impact on market action, focus is shifting to economic data and corporate earnings. After the close, all eyes will be on Apple and Microsoft, which are due to release their quarterly results,” Markus Huber, senior analyst at Peregrine & Black, said.
“Much more action has been taking place in precious metals and oil as of late, with both having dropped sharply over the past few days and weeks. Should the slump in commodities persist and intensify, many will ask themselves if this is the precursor to another dip in global growth.”
Gold prices stabilised on Tuesday just above a five-year low, but investors still saw further price falls a day after the metal tumbled 4 percent and wiped out more than $8 billion from the combined market value of global gold companies.
In Greece, banks reopened on Monday after weeks of closure. The Greek government submitted legislation to parliament on Tuesday required by its lenders to start talks on a multi-billion euro rescue package. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has until Wednesday night to get those measures adopted in the assembly.
Shares in Norsk Hydro rose 2 percent after the aluminium maker posted second-quarter operating earnings above expectations in spite of weaker metal prices.
Akzo Nobel was up 1 percent after the speciality chemicals and paints maker said it was on track to meet its 2015 targets. The company posted second-quarter results that were broadly in line due to tight cost control.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Dominic Evans