European shares weighed by weak commodity stocks, luxury stocks rise

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* STOXX 600 index down 0.5 percent, down 7 pct in 2016

* Miners, oils top sectoral losers as commodity prices fall

* LVMH rises after strong sales, buoys peers

* Old Mutual top STOXX loser as South African assets hit

By Danilo Masoni and Sudip Kar-Gupta

MILAN/LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - European shares closed slightly lower on Tuesday, weighed down by weaker commodity stocks, while shares of major luxury goods companies rose after strong figures from LVMH.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.5 percent and is down by around 7 percent since the start of 2016. Britain’s FTSE also fell after hitting a fresh all-time high, but the mid-cap index FTSE 250 outperformed as sterling came under renewed pressure.

Berkeley Futures’ associate director Richard Griffiths said he still had concerns about the generally weak economic backdrop facing Europe, with Britain’s decision to quit the European Union adding another layer of uncertainty.

“I’m not an enthusiastic buyer of the markets here. I see more downside than upside,” said Griffiths.

Oil majors BP, Eni and Total fell between 1.5 and 1.9 percent as crude prices retreated from one-year highs after mixed responses by Russian oil industry officials toward an OPEC call for all major crude producers to cut output.

Europe’s STOXX Oil & Gas index fell 1.5 percent, making it the second biggest sectoral loser in Europe after the STOXX Basic Resources index, which fell 2.1 percent, as metal prices retreated. Aluminium pulled back from two-month highs as the spotlight returned to oversupply and expectations of rising output in China.

LVMH outperformed, rising 4.5 percent after the company reported a forecast-beating acceleration in third-quarter sales.

Rival luxury good stocks such as Christian Dior, Richemont and Burberry also advanced to feature among Europe’s best-performing stocks.

But the STOXX Europe 600 banks index fell 0.6 percent, bringing its losses for the year to around 22 percent -- the worst-performing sector in Europe.

The European Central Bank’s ultra-low interest rates have kept stock markets afloat as they hit returns on bonds and cash, making stocks appear more attractive by comparison.

Interest rates have now turned negative, however, hitting the profits of European banks, which make less money from their lending activities in a negative rate environment.

“We remain cautious on the outlook for European bank profitability,” UBS analysts said in a research note.

Old Mutual fell 5.5 percent, making it the biggest faller on the STOXX.

The UK bank has a large operation in South Africa, where assets were hit by more legal difficulties for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.