* STOXX 600 down 0.5 pct
* VSTOXX hits highest level since July
* Moller-Maersk drops after results (Adds quotes and detail, updates prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - European shares were on track for their eighth straight day of losses on Wednesday, falling on jitters ahead of the U.S. presidential election next week and a drop in A.P. Moller-Maersk after results.
The STOXX 600 index dropped 0.5 percent, its lowest level since July 11, with almost every sector in negative territory.
Wall Street and Asian shares fell after U.S. voter polls showed Republican Donald Trump was closing the gap on Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of next Tuesday’s election.
Europe’s VSTOXX volatility index reflected this nervous sentiment, hitting its highest level since July.
“Now that it’s a bit less certain that (Clinton) is going to win, we’re seeing the impact of investors finally taking evasive action - probably evasive action which they should have taken a month ago. The caution is setting in,” said Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index.
Banking stocks were the heaviest fallers by sector, dropping 1.6 percent and extending their losses from the previous session, with Italian lender Banco Populare and Standard Chartered among the biggest decliners.
Standard Chartered dropped 4.5 percent, taking its losses combined with the previous session to 9.5 percent after it reported weak results on Tuesday, with brokers Deutsche Bank and Natixis cutting their target prices for its shares.
“Despite limited European/UK exposure, we think operating leverage for Standard Chartered remains challenging and see pressure on revenues in the coming years”, analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a note, retaining their “sell” rating on the stock.
Shares in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena were down 5.1 percent, having triggered automatic trading suspensions earlier in the session, after the withdrawal of an alternative rescue plan for Italy’s third-largest lender.
Container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk slumped more than 9 percent after the firm’s earnings missed forecasts with a 44 percent fall in third-quarter profit.
On the positive side, results boosted shares in a number of companies, including security firm G4S, Danish pharmaceuticals company Lundbeck and luxury retailer Hugo Boss, which all rose between 7 percent to 8.3 percent. (Editing by Alistair Smout and Hugh Lawson)