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European Shares Slide As New Virus Deaths Jump

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European shares drifted lower on Thursday, with China-related resource and automobile companies falling heavily, after some 242 deaths from the new coronavirus were recorded in the Chinese province of Hubei on Wednesday - the bulk of it due to a reclassification.

There was also a huge increase in the number of cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed with the virus.

The pan European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.6 percent to 428.74 after rising 0.6 percent in the previous session.

The German DAX was also down about 0.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 index shed 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1.2 percent.

Swiss banking major Credit Suisse Group declined half a percent despite posting a 69 percent rise in annual net profit.

Zurich Insurance Group edged up slightly after reporting a rise in FY19 profit and lifting dividend.

Specialty chemicals company Clariant surged nearly 5 percent as it unveiled plans to cut up to 600 jobs.

Nestlé shares lost 2 percent. The food giant said it expects growth to accelerate over the next two years towards its mid-single digit organic growth target, initially set for 2020.

Dutch Life Insurer Aegon NV plunged 9.5 percent after reporting a fall in second-half pretax earnings.

German industrial and technology group ThyssenKrupp rose over 1 percent. After reporting a first-quarter loss, the company said it expects to make a decision on its elevator sale soon.

Copper producer Aurubis AG slumped 8.4 percent after reporting a fall in Q1 operating profit.

Commerzbank shares surged 4.5 percent. The bank proposed further cost-cutting measures after posting a net loss for the final quarter of 2019.

Automobile companies, which have heavy exposure to China, were moving lower. BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen all fell over 1 percent. Renault lost 3 percent and Peugeot fell 2.2 percent.

Miners Anglo American, Antofagasta and Glencore fell between 0.7 percent and 1.7 percent. Oil & gas firm BP Plc shed 2.7 percent.

French telecommunications operator Orange SA gained 2.2 percent after reporting a rise in fiscal year 2019 profit.

Drinks company Pernod Ricard SA rose over 2 percent despite the company trimming its annual operating profit goal.

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