* European shares fall on lack of progress in trade talks
* Wirecard hit by report EY refused to sign off on Singapore audit
* Kingfisher posts steeper sales drop, shares lead losers
* STOXX 600 down 0.6% at two-week low Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Danilo Masoni. Reach him on Messenger to share your thoughts on market moves: email@example.com
THE "EMBARRASSINGLY LOW" DAVE-TO-WOMEN RATIO (1213 GMT)
"Everyone knows a bloke called Dave," was how British television channel UKTV justified its decision to name its newly launched channel with that moniker in 2007.
Turns out they were right: just ask any woman working in a British fund!
New research by Morningstar has found there are more men called Dave running UK-listed investment funds than the total number of female fund managers.
The company ran an analysis of 1,496 open-ended funds and found 108 of them were run by people called Dave or David.
Only 105 funds in total had a woman at the helm, the study found.
"Disappointing" and "embarrassingly low" was the verdict of analysts quoted by Morningstar.
But will anyone be surprised? Recent research by Investec found that forty three of 303 UK-listed investment trusts listed in the UK had all-male boards. And that's after investment trusts tripled the number of female directors since 2010.
It's unclear how the Dave-to-women ratio unearthed by Morningstar compares with some years ago.
Meanwhile, if you are female and harbour ambitions of managing money, best call yourself Kate; six women with this name were in the list. There were five Johannas and three each of Helen and Claudia.
Still beaten by the Daves though, and even by Jameses and Pauls of whom there were 48 and 43 respectively.
But the Dave-to-women-ratio doesn't only apply to finance, just look at this screenshot from an old story by the Guardian on how this gender metric applied to politics about five year ago.
Here's a link: https://bit.ly/2qupi0w
(Sujata Rao and Julien Ponthus)
SOME PENT-UP DEMAND TO BE UNLEASHED? (1011 GMT)
A post-mortem of the Q3 earnings season by Barclays analysts shows a mild recovery is in sight for 2020, although the general sentiment among companies towards the global economy has turned more negative this quarter.
With some progress on the trade war and Brexit, Barclays believes some pent-up demand could be unleashed if these headwinds were to be removed for good.
The relief would likely stimulate activity and act as a major positive catalyst for 2020.
"Leading indicators such as the credit impulse in China and money supply in Europe have both been turning up in recent months, arguing for an uptick in activity as we move into 2020," equity strategy analysts led by Emmanuel Cau say.
They however believe consensus estimate of 9%-10% earnings growth in 2020 might be "too optimistic" and foresee mid-single-digit growth.
OPENING SNAPSHOT: STOXX AT 2-WEEK LOW, DEFENSIVES OUTPERFORM (0838 GMT)
The return of some caution over a possible Sino-U.S. trade deal and after an euphoric run to April 2015 highs, European shares have started the session in clear risk off fashion: losses are broad-based with defensive stocks managing to outperform - but just slightly.
The STOXX 600 regional benchmark was down 0.6% at a two week low in early deals, with banks and basic materials leading the drop, while defensive utilities and healthcare were moving just above parity.
In single stocks, a disappointing trading update at Kingfisher put its shares on course for their biggest one-day drop since March 2018, down 7.5% at a two week low.
Wirecard was another casualty today, down 5.8%, as its troubles continue. German business daily Handelsblatt reported auditor EY refused to sign off on the Singapore audit of Wirecard for 2017, citing irregularities.
ON OUR RADAR: FUTURES SLIP, WIRECARD TROUBLES, KINGFISHER RESULTS (0754 GMT)
The lack of immediate progress in trade talks between the United States and China is set to weigh on European shares, keeping them just below four year peaks, while the televised debate in the UK between Johnson and Corbyn did little to change expectations over the upcoming Dec. 12 election and had little impact on the forex market.
As a result, futures on the trade sensitive DAX led the way lower in Europe, down 0.4%, while FTSE futures fell 0.2%.
In corporate news, Wirecard is set to come under renewed selling pressure after German business daily Handelsblatt reported auditor EY refused to sign off on the Singapore audit of Wirecard for 2017, citing irregularities. Its shares were down 7.7% in early Frankfurt trade.
There are also some earnings reports in the UK to digest.
Home improvement retailer Kingfisher is expected to open 5% lower after it reported another fall in underlying sales in its latest quarter, underlining the task facing its new boss.
Fevertree Drinks is seen falling 5% after the premium tonic water maker said it was still being hurt by slack consumer spending in Britain, even as other regions, especially the US, were performing well.
Other stock movers: Buoyant warship division keeps Babcock on course for 2020 targets ; Swiss eyecare company Alcon posts another loss, announces revamp; Aviva reshuffles business into five divisions, sells Hong Kong stake; UK's United Utilities profit gains on regulatory incentives
MORNING CALL: LOWER (0623 GMT)
European shares are expected to open lower this morning following losses in Asia overnight as the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing drags on, leaving investors hostage to conflicting signals over whether the parties would reach a deal.
Spreadbetters at IG expect London's FTSE to open 14 points lower at 7,310, Frankfurt's DAX to open 40 points lower at 13,181 and Paris' CAC to open 13 points lower at 5,896.
"... in the absence of a credible and comprehensive trade deal roadmap, investors might think optimism around Phase one has peaked and turned more defensive to protect profits by taking chips off the table," said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Joice Alves, Julien Ponthus and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)