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European shares in troubled waters as investors ponder ECB’s Brexit reaction

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European shares edged up in choppy trade on Friday as investors pondered possible measures the European Central Bank could put in place to ease worries about the fallout from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.2 per cent by 0837 GMT, while the FTSEurofirst 300 added 0.5 per cent, both having fluctuated in and out of positive territory earlier in the session.

Talk of a possible loosening of rules for the ECB’s bond buying programme sent Italian and Spanish borrowing costs sharply lower, initially boosting shares of banks from those countries which are among the most exposed in Europe to sovereign debt.

However, stocks came off highs after a central bank governing council member denied any immediate plans to do so.

“This (denial) still leaves a fair bit of wiggle room in terms of communication and is not as hawkish as first read of headline would suggest,” Deutsche Bank said in a note to clients.

With the exception of UK’s FTSE 100 index, European shares remain below levels reached before the shock UK vote last week, which triggered worries about political risk in Europe, weighing the most on peripheral countries and financial stocks.

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Paul

The author Paul