European shares edge lower, BNP sinks on possible fine

LONDON Fri May 30, 2014 3:10am EDT

LONDON May 30 (Reuters) - European shares edged down on Friday, with BNP Paribas leading the market lower after a report saying the U.S. Justice Department is pushing the French bank to pay more than $10 billion to resolve a criminal probe.

BNP shares fell 5.3 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported the figure late on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The probe relates to allegations that the bank evaded U.S. sanctions against Iran and other countries for years.

BNP Paribas and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Citi removed BNP Paribas from its Focus List Europe citing the uncertainty, but retained a "buy" rating on the shares.

"Beyond the uncertainty related to the potential financial settlement, the key issues remain of the type of potential charges and impact on BNP Paribas' operational capability," Citi said in a note.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.1 percent at 1,378.19 points by 0706 GMT.

Germany's benchmark DAX index bucked the falling trend seen in several other national European bourses, staying flat after figures showed on Friday that German year-on-year retail sales grew at their strongest rate in April since June 2012 as Easter fell later this year than last. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Lionel Laurent)

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