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European stocks dip as oils, miners drag; ABN jumps

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 21 (Reuters) European stocks slipped on Tuesday, with sliding oil and mining shares offsetting gains in companies such as ABN AMRO and Volvo.

By 0825 GMT (1355 IST), the pan-European FTSEurofirst index of 300 leading shares was down 0.2 per cent at 1,368.12, just shy of its highest levels since July 2001 hit on Monday.

Oil stocks weighed on the market, with BP down 0.8 per cent and Royal Dutch Shell down 1 per cent as crude heads back towards a barrel.

Miners dipped as copper prices slid, with Rio Tinto down 1 per cent and BHP Billiton 0.9 per cent lower.

On the upside, Dutch bank ABN jumped 1.9 per cent on market speculation it could become a bid target for Spain's BBVA.

Also a gainer, truck maker Volvo added 1.7 per cent after buying a 13 per cent stake in Nissan Diesel Motor Co. for 1.5 billion Swedish crowns.

On the downside, Wolseley Plc dropped 0.8 per cent after pretax profit for the British building and plumbing supplier came in towards the bottom of expectations.

Kingfisher, Europe's largest home improvement retailer, fell 1.3 per cent after it suffered a sizable drop in profits as its B&Q chain struggles with weak consumer demand.

Later in the day, investors will closely watch U.S. inflation numbers for signs the Fed may soon end its run of interest rate rises.

The Labor Department is expected to report at 1330 GMT (1900 IST) that the overall producer price index dropped 0.2 per cent last month, while core PPI, excluding food and energy, rose 0.1 per cent, according to economists polled by Reuters.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered few clues on the outlook for U.S. interest rates in a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Monday night, saying it was hard to gauge why long-term interest rates were so low and the U.S. economy should keep growing even if the housing market slowed.


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