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UK shares fall as rising COVID-19 cases in Europe spur recovery worries

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* FTSE 100 down 0.6%, FTSE 250 off 0.3%

March 24 (Reuters) - British shares inched lower on Wednesday as a jump in COVID-19 cases across Europe stoked worries about its near-term economic impact, while Bellway fell after posting lower half-yearly profit.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.6%, with bank stocks including HSBC Holdings, Barclays Plc , and Lloyds Banking Group falling between 1% and 1.5%.

Oil heavyweights BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were also among the biggest laggards.

British consumer price inflation fell to 0.4% in February from 0.7% in January, reflecting unusual patterns of clothing discounts, official figures showed, versus forecasts in a Reuters poll for it to edge up to 0.8%.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index fell 0.3%, dragged down by industrials stocks.

Housebuilder Bellway Plc shed 0.4%, after reporting a 4% fall in pre-tax profit for the six months to Jan. 31.

Holiday company TUI gained 0.8%, despite saying it would shut 48 retail stores across Britain, adding to the 166 it had already closed there during the pandemic. (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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