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European stocks hit three-week low as Turkey stress dents lenders

European stocks hit three-week low as Turkey stress dents lenders
The German share price index DAX board is pictured at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach   -   Copyright  Kai Pfaffenbach(Reuters)
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By Helen Reid

LONDON (Reuters) – Banks dragged European shares down on Monday as a growing economic crisis in Turkey shook investor confidence in lenders exposed to the country, while pharmaceuticals group Bayer sank 11 percent after its subsidiary Monsanto lost a key lawsuit.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> fell 0.3 percent to a three-week low, with Germany’s DAX <.GDAXI> down 0.4 percent as pharmaceuticals group Bayer weighed.

Bayer <BAYGn.DE> was the worst performer, sinking 10.8 percent after Monsanto, the U.S. agriculture giant it acquired in June, was ordered to pay damages in a lawsuit alleging its glyphosate weedkiller caused a man’s cancer.

“With several other similar cases up for hearing, we expect this to be an overhang on the stock,” said Goldman Sachs analysts.

Bayer’s shares were set for their biggest one-day fall in more than nine years.

Euro zone bank stocks <.SX7E> tumbled 1.3 percent to a six-week low as Turkey-exposed banks BBVA <BBVA.MC>, Unicredit <CRDI.MI> and BNP Paribas <BNPP.PA> fell 0.9 to 2.6 percent.

“Should rates be increased by 10 percent with a stabilization of EUR/TRY at 7, we would still see some earnings downside of 10% for BBVA and 8% for UCG,” said JP Morgan analysts, cutting their earnings estimates for the exposed banks.

A growing economic crisis in Turkey which took the lira to a new record low of 7.24 to the dollar overnight has spurred selling across global markets with some contagion to other emerging markets.

“The fears that all this will end in tears eventually are strong, more so with populist economic thinking at the helm, from the U.S. to Turkey, and the UK to Italy,” said Societe Generale analysts.

The lira pulled back from its record low after the central bank pledged to provide liquidity and cut lira and foreign currency reserve requirements for Turkish banks.

South African financials stocks Investec <INVP.L> and Old Mutual <OML.L> fell 2.9 percent and 2.3 percent as Turkey worries took the rand down to a new two-year low <ZAR=>.

Air France KLM <AIRF.PA> shares tumbled 5.6 percent after its biggest pilots’ union said over the weekend further strikes were possible if pay talks with management did not resume.

Travel and leisure stocks <.SXTP> fell 0.8 percent as Air France weighed and the deepening crisis in Turkey sapped investors’ appetite for companies involved in tourism in the country.

Tour operator TUI <TUIT.L> fell 4.1 percent, while budget airline easyJet <EZJ.L> lost 1.4 percent and cruise operator Carnival <CCL.L> declined 1.1 percent.

A rare gainer, United Internet <UTDI.DE> shares jumped 6.2 percent to the top of the STOXX.

The internet provider and virtual mobile network operator reported a 32.4 percent rise in profits and said it was considering bidding for 5G licences next year.

Shares in asset manager GAM <GAMH.S> fell 2.9 percent after it said it would liquidate nine funds whose trading it halted last month after suspending the investment director who ran them.

Broker notes also spurred some stock falls.

Deutsche Bank <DBKGn.DE> shares fell 1.6 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to “underperform”. Ingenico <INGC.PA> shares also suffered a 3.8 percent fall after a BAML downgrade to “underperform”.

Overall MSCI Europe companies have delivered 11.9 percent year-on-year earnings growth in their second-quarter results, in euro terms, and analysts were revising up their earnings estimates despite investors growing increasingly risk-averse.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, editing by Larry King, Richard Balmforth)

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