European shares muted as losses in energy offset gains in financials

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(Reuters) – European shares opened on a sombre note on Thursday, dented by automobile and energy stocks as multiple industry heavyweights traded ex-dividend, countering gains in insurance stocks like Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance following upbeat earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was unchanged as of 0725 GMT, after gaining for nine straight days.

The benchmark index hit a record high on Wednesday, as lesser-than-expected rise in U.S. consumer prices in April boosted bets for a September Federal Reserve rate cut.

Automobiles were the worst hit as Bayerische Motoren Werke and Daimler Truck dropped 5.6% and 3.1%, respectively, upon trading ex-dividend.

Energy also fell 0.9%, with oil major BP shedding 2% on trading ex-dividend.

Shares of Siemens lost 1.5% as second-quarter industrial profit fell 2% and missed estimates after a slowdown at its flagship factory automation division.

Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance climbed 2.1% reporting rising first-quarter property and casualty premiums, helped by increased rates.

Reinsurance company Swiss Re rose 3% after reporting better-than-expected first-quarter net profit and on plans to exit its digital white-label business.

(Reporting by Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)