(ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report for more details)
* FTSEurofirst index falls more than 1 percent
* Weaker mining and energy stocks put pressure
* Next slumps after painting cautious outlook
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - European equities slipped for a fourth straight session on Thursday, with weaker commodities prices and hawkish comments from another Fed official putting pressure on the broader stock market.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard joined a chorus of officials in highlighting the risk of at least two rate hikes this year, with the first perhaps as soon as April. Markets imply only one increase and dealers suspect an orchestrated attempt by the Fed to shift that thinking.
The STOXX Europe 600 Basic Resources index fell 3.4 percent, the top sectoral decliner, as a firmer dollar made metals costlier for holders of other currencies and dragged down prices of major industrial metals. Shares in Anglo American , Glencore, Rio Tinto and Fresnillo fell 3.9 to 6.2 percent.
“Equity markets are moving into the Easter holiday long weekend on a more cautious note, with a stronger dollar following some hawkish Fed comments weighing on the commodities space,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
“Oil prices have also been hit by ever rising U.S. crude inventories, adding to global supply glut concerns.”
The STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index also fell 1.8 percent, dragged down by a 1.6 to 2.1 percent drop in shares of Royal Dutch Shell, Total and BP.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 1.1 percent on the last trading day of the week, with volumes likely to remain thin ahead of the Easter holidays. Stock markets in Denmark and Norway were already shut on Thursday, while Sweden had a half-day trading.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index, down 1.7 percent this week, headed for a second straight week of losses.
Some companies slipped after warning on their outlook. Next slumped 9 percent after the British clothing retailer posted a 5 percent rise in annual profit, but cautioned 2016 could be the toughest it has faced since 2008 as it anticipates a more difficult economic environment.
Mid-cap company Renishaw fell more than 11 percent after the British precision engineering company firm cut its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts, citing lack of large orders from the Far East this year.
Shares in Italy’s Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) were volatile after they agreed to merge in a much-anticipated deal to create the country’s third-biggest bank.
Banco Popolare shares were suspended from trading after a rise of 5.9 percent. Popolare di Milano opened more than 4 percent higher, but were last up 0.7 percent.
Today’s European research round-up
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Editing by Keith Weir)