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LONDON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - European shares edged up on Thursday after the latest round of U.S.-China tariffs kicked in, hurting trade-sensitive autos stocks but boosting demand for sectors seen as more insulated from an escalating trade dispute.
The STOXX 600 was up 0.2 percent, buoyed by tech, healthcare, and consumer staples stocks - "defensives" which investors reach for as safer bets in times of uncertainty for their strong earnings growth and high dividend payouts.
The United States and China implemented 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other's goods early on Thursday, bringing to $50 billion the value of imports subjected to tariffs on either side since early July, with more in the pipeline.
Autos stocks were the worst-performing for a second day. On Wednesday a surprise profit warning from tyre maker Continental sank the stock and hit the sector, already one of the worst impacted by tariff fears.
Continental fell a further 2.8 percent, bottom of the DAX, taking its losses to 15 percent since Wednesday's open.
Carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen fell 0.6 to 0.8 percent, while Valeo, Renault, Michelin and Peugeot were the biggest CAC 40 fallers.
Outside of trade war moves, shares in budget airline Ryanair jumped 4.7 percent to the top of the STOXX after the Irish pilots' union Forsa said it has reached an agreement in an ongoing labour dispute.
Danish medical equipment, supplies and distribution company Ambu sank more than 10 percent at the open after its third-quarter results, with traders saying earnings and revenues numbers had missed analysts' targets.
Gaming and casino software company Playtech rose 4.8 percent after its half-year profit loss came in smaller than expected. It said competition and tougher regulation in Asian markets had caused the fall in profits.
Swiss telecoms group Sunrise Communications rose 5 percent after it increased its guidance for full-year 2018 EBITDA.
Building materials firm CRH also gained 3.7 percent after reporting first-half margins held steady and striking a positive tone for earnings in the second half of the year. (Reporting by Helen Reid Editing by Gareth Jones)