Europe shares dip early; Actelion up on drug results

Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:35am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.5 pct

* Actelion jumps 14 percent on positive results for Selexipag

* BNP up after French finmin's comments on U.S. talks

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, June 16 (Reuters) - European stocks slipped in early trade on Monday, adding to last week's retreat as mounting violence in Iraq prompted investors to lock in more of their profits on recent equity market gains.

Shares in Denmark's Vestas dropped 4.2 percent after Barclays cut its recommendation on the world's biggest wind turbine maker to 'underweight' from 'equal weight', saying the stock is overvalued.

Swiss biotech group Actelion Ltd bucked the trend, surging 14 percent after it said its experimental heart and lung drug Selexipag met its primary goal in a late-stage study, giving it a potential second big seller.

But as of 0806 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent at 1,386.45 points, retreating further from a 6-1/2 year high hit last week.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was down 0.5 percent, at 3,267.22 points.

"Geopolitics is driving the market again, with worrying news coming from Iraq, but also Kenya and Russia. Overall, there's a lack of positive momentum since the ECB meeting," said Guillaume Dumans, co-head of research firm 2Bremans.

On Sunday, Sunni insurgents solidified their grip on northern Iraq after a lightning offensive that threatens to dismember the country.

That helped send Brent crude above $113 per barrel on Monday on concerns over disruptions to oil exports from the second-largest OPEC producer.

Investors were also rattled by violence in Kenya, where at least 48 people were killed and others wounded when more than two dozen unidentified gunmen attacked a coastal town overnight.

In Ukraine at the weekend, 49 Ukrainian military personnel were killed when rebels shot down a cargo plane over the airport of the eastern city of Luhansk, while talks between Moscow and Kiev over Russian gas import prices broke down.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.3 percent, and France's CAC 40 down 0.3 percent.

Shares in BNP Paribas - recently hurt by worries over a potential big fine from U.S. authorities - were up 0.7 percent after France's finance minister said talks between BNP and U.S. authorities had progressed towards a "more equitable" level.

On the M&A front, shares in Alstom rose 0.6 percent after sources said Germany's Siemens and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries were putting the finishing touches on a joint offer for Alstom's turbine businesses. Siemens shares were up 0.2 percent.

Euro zone banking stocks were under pressure, with the sector's index down 0.7 percent, after ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny told a newspaper stress tests being conducted on major European banks before the European Central Bank takes on supervising them late this year may end up being too tough.

Italy's Banco Popolare was down 2.2 percent and France's Credit Agricole down 1.5 percent.

European stocks have sharply rallied since mid-April, helped by the prospect of further measures from the European Central Bank to support the region's fragile economic recovery.

Earlier this month, the ECB cut interest rates, launched a series of measures to pump money into the euro zone economy and pledged to do more if needed to fight off the risk of Japan-like deflation.

Patrick Legland, global head of research at Societe Generale, warned that the impact from the fresh ECB measures on the real economy could take time to materialise.

"The ECB stimulus is welcomed but not enough to boost the economy without additional growth-friendly measures. Recent figures show the euro zone rebound is losing steam, first-quarter GDP was barely positive," Legland wrote in a note.

"While equity valuations remain attractive, earnings growth could be difficult to achieve in this economic context."

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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