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Europe Inc expected fourth-quarter profits continue to shrink

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

LONDON (Reuters) - European companies will report a smaller growth in earnings in the fourth quarter than previously expected but are still set to end a nine month long corporate recession, according to data released on Tuesday.

Companies listed on the pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> are seen reporting a 2% rise in earnings per share, according to the latest data from I/B/E/S Refinitiv.

This still constitutes an improvement for a region that has suffered three straight quarters of declining profits.

The anticipated growth rate has however come down in recent weeks, shrinking from a high of 5.5% in early November to 2.5% last week.

So far, profits published for the fourth quarter fell 0.9% but the reporting season has yet to begin in earnest.

(Reporting by Joice Alves, edited by Julien Ponthus)