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European Shares Expected to Fall Slightly

European stocks were indicated to open slightly lower on Tuesday, following lackluster trade in both Asia and the U.S.

Close-up of a pen on stock price chart
Close-up of a pen on stock price chart

In Asia, only Japan's markets showed serious losses, with the Nikkei 225 Average falling 1.4 percent and the TOPIX trading 2 percent lower, as a post-quake rebound looks to have run its course and Tokyo Electric Power fell to an all-time low.

The euro traded near a five-month high against the dollar as inflationary pressures pushed silver to a 31-year high and Brent crude to a two-and-a-half-year high above $121 per barrel.

The UK's FTSE 100 index was indicated to open 4 points lower at 6,013, while Germany's DAX index was set to dip by 3 points to 7,172, and France's CAC index was shown 5 points lower at 4,038, according to IG Markets.

European shares closed at a three-week high Monday supported by M&A activity.

Vodafoneagreed to sell a 44 percent stake in France's second-largest telecoms operator SFRto Vivendi while in Belgium, chemicals company Solvay launched a 3.4 billion euro bid for France's Rhodia.

March euro zone services PMI data is due on Tuesday, as well as euro zone February retail trade.

A widely-expected European Central Bank interest rate hikeon Thursday will also be a talking point in Tuesday, with many analysts concerned that an increase in rates will hurt struggling peripheral countries.

"I'd be worried about the effect of these rises on Spain," Nick Beecroft, Senior Market Consultant at Saxo Bank told CNBC, adding he expects to see an interest rate hike of no more than a quarter of a percent and up to three rate hikes this year.

London Brent crude jumped to a 2 1/2-year high Monday on concerns over the conflict in Libyaand the threat it poses to supply. Oil prices will remain in focus Tuesday as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi continue to fight rebels.

Contact Europe: Economy

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