* FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.3 percent
* Pharmaceuticals drop after Novartis results
* Gold miner Fresnillo rebounds
* Norsk Hydro up on better-than-expected earnings (Adds quote, detail)
By Atul Prakash and Alistair Smout
LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - European shares retreated on Tuesday from their six-week high in the previous session, with the healthcare leading the market lower after Novartis reported quarterly incomes below analysts’ expectations.
The STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare Index was the sector declining the most, falling 0.7 percent. Novartis dropped 2.1 percent after the Swiss drugmaker reported a weak performance by its eyecare division in the second quarter.
Novartis also came under pressure from a stronger dollar, which traders said could hurt earnings in general as investors anticipate an interest rate increase by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“The move in Novartis today is largely down to a strengthening dollar. Some of it was priced in, but it’s going to have a contuining effect moving forward,” said Mark Foulds, sales trader at ETX Capital.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,609.91 points by 1129 GMT after rising to a six-week high in the previous session.
Gold prices stabilised on Tuesday just above a five-year low, with precious metal miner Fresnillo up 3.4 percent, the top FTSEurofirst 300 riser.
The price of gold has also been hit by the strong dollar. It fell as much as 4 percent on Monday, wiping more than $8 billion off the combined market value of global gold-mining companies.
“Much more action has been taking place in precious metals ... should the slump in commodities persist and intensify, many will ask themselves if this is the precursor to another dip in global growth,” Markus Huber, senior analyst at Peregrine & Black, said.
The Greek stock market remained closed, with capital controls still in place. 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 parliament.
Shares in Norsk Hydro rose 1.8 percent after the aluminium maker posted second-quarter operating earnings above expectations in spite of weaker metal prices.
Graphic paper producer Stora Enso declined the most on the broader STOXX Europe 600, losing 8 percent after it reported weaker-than-expected quarterly profit due to production problems and higher costs.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up