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European stocks end lower on virus, policy jitters

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
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By Sruthi Shankar and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) -European shares ended lower on Thursday after data showed faltering German consumer morale amid rising COVID-19 cases, while investors fretted over U.S. monetary policy ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3%, with mining and travel & leisure stocks leading losses.

The STOXX 600 had briefly deepened its losses towards the close, tracking a fall in U.S. stocks after sentiment was rattled by a blast in Kabul. [.N]

Anticipation of the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole summit on Friday kept investors on their toes, with chair Jerome Powell's speech likely to offer hints on the central bank's plans to taper its massive stimulus programme.

"We think that those expecting clear communication about the shape and timing of the tapering of asset purchases may be disappointed," said Paolo Zanghieri, senior economist at Generali Investments. "The recent data remain strong, but momentum is receding and inflation fears have not surged."

A survey showed the mood among German consumers darkened heading into September as accelerating inflation and rising COVID-19 cases made them more hesitant to buy.

Business morale in the euro zone's largest economy fell for the second month running in August, data on Wednesday showed.

"Risks are tilted to the downside over the near term," analysts at BCA Research said. "While global COVID-19 cases appear to be rolling over and (China's) Ningbo-Zhoushan port has reopened, which are both positive for supply chains, COVID-19 cases are still climbing in Germany."

European travel company Tui, airlines Wizz Air, Lufthansa and British Airways-owner IAG fell by between 0.9% and 3.8%.

Wizz Air was the worst performer on the STOXX 600, dropping 3.8%.

Germany's blue-chip DAX dropped 0.4%, marking its lowest closing level in a week, while the UK's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 declined by 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively.

Deutsche Bank's asset management arm DWS Group fell 13.7% on a report U.S. authorities were investigating DWS over sustainability claims. Deutsche Bank's shares dropped 1.5%.

France's Vivendi rose 2.6% after its unit Universal Music Group said it expects further revenue growth this year and it aims to pay out dividends once it lists in Amsterdam.

French conglomerate Bouygues gained 1.1% as it raised its full-year earnings outlook.

Swedish Orphan Biovitrum was the best performer on the STOXX 600, rising 8.8% after Bloomberg reported that private equity firm Advent International is considering a bid for the pharmaceutical maker.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Susan Fenton)

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