May 7, 2019 / 8:06 AM / 2 months ago

European shares struggle as trade concerns weigh

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May 7 (Reuters) - European shares were little changed early on Tuesday with London markets leading losses as investors returned from a long weekend to digest a slew of earnings and watch for developments around U.S.-China trade talks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index flitted between gains and losses and was last up 0.1 percent by 0735 GMT.

UniCredit helped lift the Milan index after Italy’s biggest bank said it was considering a sale of its FinecoBank unit and had adopted measures to ensure the online broker could operate outside the group.

Across the region, banks fell 0.7 percent, the biggest sectoral decline.

Mobile phone group Cellnex gave a major boost to the IBEX 35 index on news that it had the go-ahead to buy Iliad’s mobile tower assets in France and Italy for 2 billion euros ($2.24 billion.

Germany’s biggest residential property company Vonovia boosted the real estate sector after it raised its full-year profit guidance.

EssilorLuxottica shares edged higher as the eyewear maker kept its full-year outlook unchanged after posting upbeat first-quarter sales.

Norwegian Air climbed 8 percent after the carrier reported that its aircraft filled up at a faster pace and income per passenger for April improved despite the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX jets.

Among decliners, Henkel slid more than 3 percent after the German consumer goods company reported a disappointing quarter of earnings as its adhesives business was hit by falling industrial production and its beauty unit underperformed in western Europe and China.

G4S shares landed at the bottom of STOXX 600 after Garda World Security Corp dropped interest in its cash solutions business.

BMW dropped after reporting a 78 percent fall in quarterly operating profit, as it took a hit from higher investment spending and a legal provision.

Equity markets around the world were hit on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to hike tariffs on Chinese goods by Friday, raising prospects of an escalation in trade tensions between the world’s largest economies.

Still, China’s commerce ministry said on Tuesday Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States on May 9 and May 10 for bilateral trade talks at the invitation of senior U.S. officials. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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