* FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.7 percent
* HSBC, RBS, UBS, Barclays in focus after forex probe fines
* J. Sainsbury leads retailers down after update
By Atul Prakash and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, Nov 12 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday, with financials hit after global regulators fined five banks for failings in currency trading, while supermarket chain J. Sainsbury dropped after announcing plans to cut prices.
Sainsbury’s fell 5.5 percent after saying it aimed to cut spending heavily, rein in its property expansion and find more efficiencies to pay for lower prices.
“The majority of the key metrics reported remain in negative territory,” Richard Hunter, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said. “The rise of the discounters continues as they edge their way into consumer consciousness and Sainsbury’s declaration of ‘investment’ in price cuts will inevitably eat into revenues.”
The Sainsbury report dampened sentiment towards other retailers, with rival Tesco down 2.7 percent and Marks & Spencer dropping 0.7 percent.
The European retail index fell 1.1 percent.
The European banking index slipped 1.3 percent after global regulators imposed penalties totalling $3.4 billion on UBS, Citigroup, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and JP Morgan.
HSBC was down 0.9 percent, while Frankfurt-listed shares of JPMorgan and Citi were down 0.7-0.8 percent. UBS bucked the trend, up 0.2 percent, with traders saying the fine had been already taken into account.
Barclays fell 2 percent. The British bank, a major player in the foreign exchange market, had been expected to be part of the settlement but Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FCA) said its investigation was continuing.
“The fact that Barclays has delayed a settlement on this probe keeps the uncertainty,” a London-based trader said.
At 1146 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.7 percent at 1,348.89 points after gaining in the previous two sessions. The index remained within the tight trading range seen since late October.
Italian bank UniCredit was down 3.1 percent and peer Banco Popolare, which announced a net loss of 121.7 million euros for January-September late on Tuesday, dropped 3.5 percent.
The utilities sector was led lower by a 4.2 percent decline in Italy’s Enel after it lowered its debt-reduction target for 2014 and reported a slight drop in nine-month core earnings. The utilities index fell 1.6 percent.
Oil services group SBM Offshore jumped 17.6 percent after it settled with Dutch prosecutors for $240 million over an inquiry into suspected improper payments to government officials. (Editing by Toby Chopra and Susan Fenton)