April 30, 2020 / 7:51 AM / a month ago

European shares inch lower as Shell drags; ECB awaited

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April 30 (Reuters) - European shares edged lower on Thursday as a slump in Royal Dutch Shell and another batch of mixed earnings reports weighed on the mood ahead of the conclusion of a European Central Bank meeting.

The STOXX 600 fell 0.2%, as Shell dropped 7% after cutting its dividend for the first time in 80 years and suspending the next tranche of its share buyback programme amid a collapse in global oil demand.

While Euro zone GDP numbers are due at 10:00 am GMT, data from France showed the country saw its sharpest economic contraction since World War II in the first quarter due to the impact of the lockdown.

Safran jumped 5.8% as the aerospace supplier said it aims to maintain positive cash flow over the full year “despite significant potential headwinds” from the crisis.

Airbus also gained 6.2% on news it was talks with the French state regarding possible aid.

European shares are on course to log its biggest monthly gain since July 2009 as signs of easing restrictions, aggressive stimulus actions and recently, hopes of an efficient coronavirus treatment helped a recovery from a rout in February.

Investors will turn to the ECB policy decision, due to be released at 1145 GMT. Policymakers are expected to discuss expanding stimulus but a big move is unlikely to come on Thursday. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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