* Pan-European STOXX 600 index down 0.3 pct
* Banks down after Draghi remarks, real estate up
* Unilever inches up after strategy review
* Shares off lows as commodity stocks recover
(Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, April 6 European shares fell on Thursday
after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last meeting raised
worries over high stock market valuations, with banks hit by
cooling ECB rate hike expectations.
The STOXX 600 index fell 0.3 percent while
Britain's FTSE and Germany's DAX both fell 0.4
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the bank would
stick to its policy plan including bond buying and record-low
rates for some time to come as it was not yet convinced the euro
zone economy was back to rude health.
His remarks, which suggested the ECB will not change its
policy message this month, hit banking stocks, which
benefit from prospects that higher rates could boost their
margins, but lifted the real estate index to a
"Banks have been suffering from negative newsflow on the
rates front with the central bank rapidly becoming more prudent
after inflation data resoundingly missed expectations," said
Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager at Anthilia in Milan. "On the
other hand, real estate is recovering from worries that rates
could start a phase of strong increases."
Among real estate stocks, France's Unibail Rodamco
provided the biggest boost to the sectoral index with a rise of
1.1 percent. Among euro zone banks, the top two fallers were
Italy's Banco BPM and Germany's Commerzbank,
both down 1.6 percent. Deutsche Bank fell 1 percent
on the last day to subscribe to its 8 billion euros cash call.
Anthilia's Sersale added that broader risk-off mood was also
due to profit-taking after a strong gain in March and a reversal
at Wall Street following the release of the Fed minutes
Unilever edged up 0.2 percent after the consumer
goods giant promised a multi-billion pound programme of
shareholder rewards after a corporate rethink sparked by a
takeover approach from Kraft Heinz.
Eslewhere broker upgrades drove price action.
Pearson was the top loser on the STOXX, down 8.7
percent, as the British education firm traded ex-dividend and
was further weighed down by a downgrade from Exane to
AstraZeneca fell 1.3 percent after a UBS downgrade
to neutral, while German airport operator Fraport rose
2.9 percent with traders linking the rise to a upgrade to "buy"
from Societe Generale.
European shares come off lows as commodity stocks recovered
after crude oil prices turned higher after being hit in the
previous session record high U.S. crude inventories.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Alison Williams)