European shares end lower as tech, luxury stocks lose ground

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

* Nestle hits record high

* HelloFresh tumbles after weak forecast

* Travel stocks rise on Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine news (Updates to close)

By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

Dec 8 (Reuters) - European stocks ended a volatile session lower on Wednesday after marking their strongest two-day gain in more than a year, with tech and luxury stocks reversing strong gains as investors pitted vaccine reassurances against COVID-19 curbs.

After jumping 3.8% over the past two days, the region-wide STOXX 600 index .STOXX closed down 0.6%.

While defensive buying kept it buoyed in morning trade, worries about the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the Omicron COVID-19 variant and possibilities of tougher restrictions this week in Britain weighed on sentiment.

The index got some respite when BioNTech BNTX.O and Pfizer PFE.N said a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the Omicron variant in a laboratory test.

That lifted travel and leisure stocks .SXTP , with online gambling company Evolution EVOG.ST jumping 7.3%, cruise operator Carnival CCL.L adding 4% and holiday firm TUI TUIGn.DE TUIT.L rising 2%, even as it reported an annual operating loss of over 2 billion euros.

U.S. investment bank JP Morgan predicted on Wednesday that 2022 will mark the end of the pandemic and see a full global economic recovery.

"European equities are in a sweet spot," said State Street Global Advisors in a 2022 outlook note.

"European stocks offer attractive valuations relative to their U.S. counterparts... (and) currently boast the strongest earnings and growth expectations across developed markets."

Healthcare .SXDP stocks, among those considered more stable during times of economic uncertainty, also gained.

However, chipmakers ASML ASML.AS and Infineon IFXGn.DE , and luxury stocks Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH LVMH.PA , Hermes HRMS.PA and Gucci-parent Kering PRTP.PA fell between 1.4% and 4.6%, weighing the most on STOXX 600.

A recent rally has seen the STOXX 600 recover all losses that were driven by the detection of the Omicron variant on Nov. 26, with the index now just 3% below its all-time high.

U.S. inflation data on Friday and a slew of major central bank meetings next week could set the tone for financial markets, as investors try to gauge when policymakers will start withdrawing pandemic-era stimulus.

Shares in Nestle SA NESN.S rose 1.6% to hit an all-time high, boosting the Swiss index .SSMI to fresh peaks, after the company trimmed its stake in French beauty giant L'Oreal OREP.PA .

Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE slipped 0.3% after it said tight chip supply would continue to pose challenges to Europe's largest carmaker during at least the first half of 2022.

Meal-kit company Hellofresh HFGG.DE slid 10.9% after an underwhelming 2022 earnings outlook, while chemicals and recycling company Umicore UMI.BR dropped 9% on cutting its outlook for the second time in three months.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V, Devika Syamnath and Ramakrishnan M.

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