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European shares edge lower; AstraZeneca helps cut losses

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European shares slipped on Thursday, led by declines in real estate stocks, with losses limited by gains in British drugmaker AstraZeneca following upbeat earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.2% by 0917 GMT, after snapping a three-day winning streak on Wednesday.

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European real estate stocks slid 1.7%, with German housing group LEG Immobilien tumbling 6.7% after slightly lowering its annual profit forecast.

The real estate sector index tracked its biggest one-day percentage fall in one week.

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Still, declines in European markets were fairly contained. The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had dropped 1.4% as investors waited for the U.S. consumer prices data due later in the day.

The reading will likely show a slowing in both the monthly and yearly core numbers for October, according to a Reuters poll.

“Inflation data understandably is now one of the biggest market movers of the month,” said Chris Turner, global head of markets at ING.

Turner said even though the data may not have the final say on the Federal Reserve’s December interest rate decision, given there will be U.S. employment data coming up next month, “it can set the tone regarding the Fed’s comfort level.”

Markets in Europe have cheered the Fed’s hint of delivering its rate increases in small increments. The STOXX 600 index is now eying its fourth straight week of gains, also supported by a better-than-expected earnings season.

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AstraZeneca gained 1.4% as it raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast after beating expectations for quarterly profit and revenue.

Allianz gained 2.5% as the German insurer gave a more optimistic full-year outlook after reporting a better-than-expected 17% rise in third-quarter net profit.

German takeaway food company Delivery Hero surged 10.4%, to top the STOXX 600, after it reassured investors about achieving an adjusted core profit margin in 2023 and upgraded its guidance for this year.

Knorr Bremse advanced 9.8% after the German braking systems maker reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Even as earnings were optimistic, sentiment was weighed down by a likely fall of major cryptocurrency exchange FTX after a deal with bigger rival Binance collapsed.

“Steep declines in cryptos may have undermined sentiment toward more speculative assets as financial conditions continue to tighten,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a client note. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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