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* Pan-European STOXX 600 index down 0.1 percent
* Banks led lower by Spain’s Banco Popular, oils down
* Roche boosted by trial success with cancer drug
* Investors cautious before Yellen speech
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, May 27 (Reuters) - European shares fell slightly on Friday, weighed down by weakness in Spanish banks and some oil sector stocks, although Roche soared on positive results from an interim analysis of one of its cancer drugs.
Investors were likely to remain cautious ahead of U.S. GDP data and comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the day which could give more clues about the interest rates outlook in the world’s largest economy.
“It will be crucial to figure out whether Yellen is aligned or not with (recent) indications that the June and July FOMC meetings are live,” JCI Capital portfolio manager Alessandro Balsotti said.
The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index and the FTSEurofirst 300 index were both down around 0.1 percent by 0821 GMT. Both indexes had hit a 4-week high earlier this week.
The STOXX Europe 600 Bank index was the top sectoral faller with a drop of 0.5 percent. Spanish banks continued to be hit by news of a surprise cash call at Banco Popular, which fell more than 4 percent and was the top loser in its sector and on the broader STOXX index.
The STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas index fell 0.3 percent, after crude oil prices slipped back below the $50-per-barrel mark. Shares in oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni were all down between 0.1 and 0.7 percent..
Outsourcing group Capita’s shares fell 1.6 pct, leading losers on Britain’s FTSE index, after Exane BNP Paribas cuts to “underperform” from “neutral”.
However, Roche rose 3.6 percent after a clinical trial testing its new blood cancer drug Gazyva proved successful, lifting prospects for a new medicine that will be pivotal as the Swiss company fights the threat of biosimilar competition.
Some analyst said the news was as welcome surprise, while Vontobel also lifted its target price on the stock on the Swiss drugmaker to 330 Swiss francs from 309.
Today’s European research round-up
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni)