* STOXX 600 down 0.4 pct, weighed by banks
* ING falls after disclosing criminal probe
* Akzo drops as investors urge takeover talks
* Gemalto plummets after warning
(Adds details, closing prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, March 22 European shares hit a two-week
low on Wednesday, extending losses from the previous session,
weighed down by weaker banks and a plunge in security services
firm Gemalto following a profit warning.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended down 0.4
percent, little affected by an attack in London near the British
parliament which left several people injured.
The index fell as much as 1 percent to its lowest since
March 9 as global markets were hit by worries that U.S.
President Donald Trump could struggle to deliver on his
reflationary economic policies.
These doubts hit bank stocks with their sectoral index
falling 0.8 percent.
"Bank stocks .. were epitomising the reflation trade with
higher interest rates and higher inflation with Trump-led
spending," Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London
Capital Group, said. "As the market's been questioning itself,
or at least unwinding ... that's been a sector that's been hit
Dutch lender ING Groep was among the biggest
fallers, down 4 percent after disclosing a criminal
investigation which could result in significant fines.
"It is at this stage hard to assess ING's exact role in the
alleged wrongdoing, let alone estimate the size of any penalties
the group might face," analysts at KBC Securities said in a
"Penalties by U.S. authorities on similar criminal
proceedings have been very high in the past and we therefore
expect investors to react nervously to ING's involvement in this
Raiffeisen Bank also dropped 5.6 percent after
Immigon completed the sale of 9.92 million shares in the
Akzo Nobel fell 1 percent, as shareholders piled
on pressure to open talks with U.S. rival PPG Industries
after the Dutch paint maker rejected a revised 22.7 billion euro
The biggest individual faller was Gemalto, which
plunged 17 percent, its second biggest one-day loss on record.
The Dutch digital security services firm plummeted after
cutting its profit forecasts, blaming a weak U.S. payments
business. Transactions system firm Ingenico also fell
Individual moves higher were relatively muted, though
safe-haven precious metals miners Randgold Resources and
Polymetal International were in demand, rising 1.4
percent and 2.6 percent respectively.
The broad risk-off sentiment likewise helped defensive
stocks such as Portuguese electric utility EDP and
Spain's Endesa, which were among top gainers. Europe's
utilities sector rose 0.3 percent.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni;
Editing by Andrew Heavens and Toby Davis)