London: European shares fell on Friday, after ending the previous session at their highest level in nearly 18 months, with drugmakers and oil stocks featuring among the losers and banks rebounded from earlier falls.
By 2:22pm, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares was down 0.3% at 1,080.12 points. The index is up 3.3% this year and has jumped 67 since hitting a record low in March last year.
Drugmakers took the most points off the index following moderate rises in the previous session. Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Aventis fell 0.4 to 0.6%.
After sharp gains in the previous session oil stocks were also on the downside. BG Group, BP and Petroplus lost 0.2 to 0.7%.
Cable & Wireless Communications slipped 2.7% after prices were adjusted for the demerger of Cable & Wireless Worldwide, which was marked up 27.1%.
Across Europe, the FTSE 100 index was down 0.1%, Germany’s DAX fell 0.1% and France’s CAC 40 was 0.03% higher.
The banking sector recovered from earlier falls to turn positive. Greek bank stocks jumped 6.8% on the Athens bourse after the euro zone and the European Central Bank (ECB) moved to help Greece tackle a debt crisis.
National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank rose 6.3 to 7.6%. The Greek market was closed on Thursday for a holiday.
“I do not think there will be too much enthusiasm for the agreement with Greece. It is just filling in the cracks rather than solving the problems,” said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management.
Euro zone leaders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide a joint financial safety net for debt-laden Greece on Thursday, but the plan did not extinguish fears about other fiscally vulnerable economies in Europe such as Portugal and Spain.
“Despite the agreement reached by the euro zone leaders last night, concerns about other fiscally-vulnerable economies such as Portugal and Spain are unlikely to recede quickly,” Barclays Wealth said in a note.
Nordea Bank, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse slipped 0.7 to 3.4%.
The main US macroeconomic focus on Friday will be the final reading for fourth quarter real gross domestic product (GDP), due at 1230 GMT, followed by the final March University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey at 7:25pm.