European shares slip as banks, oils retreat

Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:06am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.6 percent

* Banks, oils retreat from earlier gains

* Cadbury gains on JP Morgan upgrade

By Joanne Frearson

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - European shares fell for a fourth consecutive session on Friday, with banks retreating from earlier gains and energy stocks falling after crude CLc1 prices slipped.

By 1150 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares was down 0.6 percent at 1,004.31 points in a choppy session, having been up as much as 1,016.51 earlier.

The index has gained 56 percent since falling to a record low in early March and is up 21 percent so far this year.

"I think the market is pausing for breath ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday next week. I like to think it is the start of a correction, but I am not so sure," said Howard Wheeldon, strategist at BGC Partners.

"The macro data coming out of the U.S. has been poor, but there is still a wide belief that the global recession is over."

Banks retreated from earlier gains to feature among the worst performers. UBS UBSN.VX, Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) and Barclays (BARC.L) fell 2.2 to 2.5 percent.

Energy stocks turned lower after crude CLc1 prices fell 0.5 percent. BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Total (TOTF.PA) were down 0.6 to 1.3 percent.

TRAVEL OPERATORS WEIGH

Travel operators TUI Travel (TT.L) and Thomas Cook (TCG.L) fell 5.8 percent and 5.3 percent respectively after Morgan Stanley downgraded the two companies, citing a weaker operating environment and more expensive debt refinancing. [ID:nBNG495215]

The broker cut its stance on Thomas Cook to "underweight" from "equal-weight" and downgraded TUI to "equal-weight" from "overweight".

A UBS downgrade hurt Italy's biggest utility Enel (ENEI.MI), with the shares falling 2.5 percent after the broker cut the group to "neutral" from "buy".

Fiat FIA.MI lost 3.9 percent as UBS cut the carmaker to "neutral" from "buy".

"We're still stuck in a tight range, and this could last until December," said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities in Paris.

"Recent U.S. housing data and default rates are grim and that could seriously revive fears over banks' balance sheets and dampen hopes of an end-of-year rally."

On the upside, Cable & Wireless CW.L gained 2.5 percent after JP Morgan upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "neutral" and increased its target price, and said it is well placed to benefit from a rebound in the economy.

Across Europe, the FTSE 100 .FTSE index was down 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX .GDAXI was down 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 .FCHI was 0.6 percent lower. (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson and Dominic Lau; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)