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Europe stocks dip; Greek shares extend retreat


European shares

European shares

European shares

European shares dipped in early trading on Wednesday, with Greek stocks extending their sell-off sparked by the victory of leftwing Syriza party in Sunday's election.

Shares of Greek utility PPC and Greece's biggest port, Piraeus Port Authority, fell by 6.6 and 8.3 percent respectively after the new government said it would freeze privatisation plans.

One of the first decisions announced by the Syriza government was stopping the planned sale of a 67-percent stake in Piraeus Port Authority. Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis also told Greek television earlier that the Syriza government would halt plans to privatise PPC.

Athens's ATG index was down 3.6 percent, losing 10.1 percent since the start of the week.

Swiss pharma group Roche also lost ground on Wednesday, down 1.9 percent after the firm posted full-year earnings that missed forecasts and unveiled a lower-than-expected dividend rise.

Swiss companies with costs at home and sales abroad will have a hard time maintaining their hefty dividends following a recent surge in the Swiss franc that is set to eat into their earnings.

At 0931 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,474.36 points.

Shares in European technology firms rallied, with ARM Holdings up 2.6 percent, lifted by forecast-beating results from Apple. The group posted quarterly results that smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of big-screen iPhones in the holiday shopping season and a 70 percent rise in China sales.

Shares in Electrolux also featured among the top gainers, rising 8.9 percent after the global home appliances maker forecast decent market growth on both sides of the north Atlantic this year.

Nordea, the Nordic region's biggest bank by market value, also rallied, up 5.3 percent after it reported fourth-quarter operating profit in line with expectations on Wednesday and raised its dividend.

So far in Europe's earnings season, about 5 percent of STOXX 600 have reported results, of which 69 percent managed to meet or beat analyst forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, fuelling hopes of a long-awaited recovery in European earnings.

"U.S. investors have been reluctant to invest into European stocks because of their doubts on the region's potential recovery," Cyrille Collet, head of equity at CPR AM, said.

"Now with the European Central Bank's pro-active stance, the mood is changing. There's a big potential to see investment flows coming back into Europe."

Around Europe on Wednesday, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.04 percent, and France's CAC 40 down 0.3 percent.

So far this year, the FTSE 100 is up 3.6 percent, the DAX up 8.3 percent and the CAC up 7.9 percent, while Wall Street's S&P 500 is down 1.4 percent over the same period.