LONDON European shares fell on Thursday, leaving an index of the continent's top companies set for a weekly loss, with banks leading the losses.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.4 percent, setting it up for a loss of 0.3 percent over a holiday-shortened four-day week, which would end two weeks of gains.
The banking index was down 1.5 percent, at a five-week low, set for its fifth straight day of losses as investors globally fled risky assets.
Spain's Banco Popular led losses, down 4.3 percent. French banks Societe Generale, Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas were also among top fallers, down 1.8 to 2.7 percent.
German airline Lufthansa fell 3.8 percent after investor InfiniteMiles placed a 2.5 percent stake at 15.25 euros per share.
Shares in Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget rose to a record high, up 7.1 percent. A group of private equity companies bid around 200 billion Swedish crowns ($22.3 billion) for the hygiene arm of the tissue and forestry products company, a Swedish newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
SCA said last year it would split its business into a hygiene segment and a forestry segment. SCA declined to comment on the speculation.
Gold climbed to a five-month high on geopolitical tensions and U.S. President Donald Trump's comments on the dollar's strength .
Gold miner Centamin was up 4.8 percent. Blue-chip peers Fresnillo and Randgold Resources also gained.
Mediclinic rose 3.6 percent, the top FTSE 100 gainer after a full-year trading update which showed 2017 revenue increased 3.5 percent.
British retailer ABF was up 3.4 percent. Jefferies raised the stock to "buy" from "hold", citing continued strength in sugar and a turn in Primark margins.
Shares in Britain's Royal Mail rose 1.8 percent after saying it would close its defined benefit pension scheme next year.
Czech bank Komercni Banka fell the most after going ex-dividend. Standard Life , Taylor Wimpey and Reckitt Benckiser and declined .
Danish, Icelandic and Norwegian exchanges were closed for the Maundy Thursday holiday, taking volume out of the European benchmarks.
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Larry King)