European Shares Dip as Scotland Worries Weigh


European shares fell in early trading on Monday, retreating after an opinion poll showed supporters of Scottish independence from Britain taking the lead for the first time since the referendum campaign began.

Shares in Scottish-based banks featured among the biggest losers, with Lloyds Banking Group down 2.2 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland down 2.7 percent.

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With less than two weeks to go before the vote, a YouGov survey for the Sunday Times newspaper put the "Yes" to independence campaign at 51 percent against the "no" camp at 49 percent, overturning a 22-point lead for the unionist campaign in just a month.

Analysts and economists have questioned whether an independent Scotland will be able to host such large banks. Banking industry sources told Reuters last week that Lloyds is considering moving its registered offices to London if Scots vote for independence.

"The latest poll is a big wake-up call for all the investors who had not yet priced in the risk of a vote in favor of independence," said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France.

"It shouldn't derail the recent stock rally, but the market will probably remain range-bound until the vote."

At 0755 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.4 percent at 1,390.61 points. Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 down 0.1 percent.

Germany's DAX bucked the trend, up 0.3 percent. The country posted on Monday a record trade surplus of 22.2 billion euros for July, suggesting it could bounce back strongly in the third quarter after suffering a surprise contraction in the second.

Sweden's Electrolux jumped 6.9 percent after it said on Monday it would buy General Electric Co's appliances business for $3.3 billion in cash to double sales in North America and take on rival Whirlpool Corp.

The FTSEurofirst 300 gained 1.6 percent last week, boosted by a surprise interest rate cut by the European Central Bank which also launched new measures to support the euro zone economy.

Goldman Sachs' equity strategists see further gains in European stocks in the coming months, raising their rating on equities to 'overweight' from 'neutral' on a 3-month basis.

In a note issued late on Friday, Goldman Sachs wrote that it was still keeping a 'very positive' view on global equities for the longer-term, helped by better corporate earnings growth and dividends.

Europe bourses in 2014:

Asset performance in 2014:

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(additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing by Dominic Evans)