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Europe shares dip at end of best quarter in a year

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - European shares fell for the fourth straight session on Thursday, with investors locking in profits after the best quarterly gains in a year, following upbeat U.S. economic data.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares provisionally closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,063.11 points in a choppy session, after the index earlier hit a high of 1,078.21.

The index ended the month with its highest quarterly gains in a year, up 7 percent in the three-months to end-September.

Optimism over the health of the economy was spurred by strong U.S. gross domestic product, weekly jobless claims and Midwest business activity data. [ID:nN30285244]

Analysts said the technical picture remained bullish.

“The Dow’s bounced straight off a top-trend that’s happened since the start of September, so fundamentals (are) better than expected, technicals continue to be bullish,” said Andrew Gibson, head of research at Galvan.

Banks were among the fallers, with Barclays BARC.L, Societe Generale SOGN.PA and BNP Paribas BNPP.PA down 1.4 to 2.3 percent.

Oil majors gained after a rise in crude prices CLc1 to almost $79 on the upbeat economic outlook. Within the sector, BP BP.L rose 1.6 percent after its chief executive told the BBC the firm may resume paying a dividend in 2011. (Reporting by Harpreet Bhal and Simon Jessop)

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