European shares creep lower as growth fears weigh
* Miners weaken on global growth concerns
* Stimulus hopes set to limit equity market losses
* Julius Baer weak on Merill Lynch deal
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - European stocks crept lower on Monday, in light choppy trade, as investors weighed up concerns over global economic growth with expectations of further central bank stimulus.
Mining stocks came under pressure as the global growth worries, exacerbated by data showing Japan's economy expanded just 0.3 percent in April-June, half the pace expected, took their toll on the copper price.
"The recent rally in equities appears to have run out of steam as Japanese data disappoints and the Olympic hangover kicks in," Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor, said.
"It's crunch time for action in the euro zone before stimulus hopes start to fade along with remaining confidence."
The FTSEurofirst 300 had fallen 0.1 percent to 1,098.92 by 1122 GMT, in volume at around 18 percent of its 90-day daily average.
The index has surged 8 percent since ECB President Mario Draghi raised hopes for fresh intervention two weeks ago when he said the bank was "ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro".
This has led to speculation the central bank would restart its purchases of Spanish and Italian debt to reduce their borrowing costs, although question marks remain over the timing and details of this aid.
"Based on the strong move we have seen I would guess this would lead to some kind of pause in equities although the downside is pretty much limited," Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at Baader Bank, said.
"Central bank action hopes to put some kind of floor (under equity markets). We have to see how quickly this materialises."
The weak Japanese GDP data came hard on the heels of poor trade data from China last week, which fuelled fears about the pace of the world's second-biggest economy and global demand.
Investors are however mindful that a gloomy economic outlook might lead to more central bank stimulus measures.
Late on Friday the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, John Williams, said the Fed should launch a fresh round of bond-buying to lower the U.S. unemployment rate more quickly, fuelling speculation the central bank could soon unveil a new round of quantitative easing.
Julius Baer was the top FTSEurofirst 300 faller, off 5.2 percent, as analysts criticised the Swiss private bank's 860 million Swiss franc ($881.9 million) purchase of Bank of America Merill Lynch's private banking business outside of the U.S.
Analysts said the transaction looked pricey and questioned how it would add to Baer's earnings.
"In our view today's announcement of the international business of Merrill Lynch looks rather expensive especially when taking into account the integration costs, implementation risks and need for additional capital increase," says Vontobel analyst Teresa Nielsen, who put Baer's price target and rating under negative review.
Trading volume in Julius Baer was strong, at twice the 90-day daily average.
Standard Chartered, meanwhile, advanced 1.4 percent, extending its rally in the aftermath of sharp falls last week.
The British bank is rushing to reach a settlement within days over charges it hid transactions tied to Iran and is set to resume talks with U.S. regulators on Monday, sources familiar with the situation said.
The London-based bank's U.S. legal team have got as far as discussing an amount with regulators, indicating progress has been made before a Wednesday deadline, the sources told Reuters.
Trading volume in Standard Chartered was also robust, at 55 percent of its 90-day daily average.
$1 = 0.9752 Swiss francs)
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