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European Shares Fall Early

Source: Reuters - Tue 9th Feb 2010

European shares slipped on Tuesday after gains in the previous day, with persistent worries about fiscal problems in Greece, Spain and Portugal forcing investors to stay cautious, but stronger mining shares limited losses.

At 0809 GMT, the FTS Eurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 975.96 points after gaining 0.7 percent in the previous session. The index has fallen 9 percent since hitting a 15-month high last month, but is still up 50 percent from a record low in March 2009.

Banks were among the top losers, with Standard, Barclays , BNP Paribas, Societe Generale Credit Agricole and Natixis falling 0.3 to 2.7 percent.

"Investors are rightly concerned about the timing of the removal of extraordinary loose fiscal and monetary policy. The risk of default has increased and there is an uncertainty over financial regulation," said Henk Potts, equity strategist at Barclays Wealth.

"The credibility has been lost in terms of market participants' belief in authorities to deal with many of these problems. And that's creating the nervousness and has been unsettling markets," he added.

EU leaders are due to meet on Thursday in Brussels for a special summit on the economy under pressure to restore confidence among investors worried that rising debt in Greece, Portugal and other weaker states in the euro zone could undermine the global recovery.

UBS shares fell 1.5 percent. The Swiss bank posted its first quarterly net profit since Oswald Gruebel took the helm a year ago, but client withdrawals rose well above forecasts.

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