European shares slip, led by utilities and banks

LONDON Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:42am EST

LONDON Feb 15 (Reuters) - European shares nudged lower on Friday, held back by weak utilities and banks, though strategists reckoned that any dips in the equity markets should be seen as a buying opportunity.

The STOXX Europe 600 Utilities Index and the Banks index were both among the worst performing European sectors, off 0.6 percent.

Utilities were knocked by a 3.3 percent drop in Spanish power company Iberdrola, which traders attributed to signs that lender Bankia might be looking to sell its stake in the company.

The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed down 0.1 percent at 1,162.21, around levels seen at the start of January.

While markets have been in a consolidation mode over recent weeks, continued loose monetary policy from central banks was one good reason to keep faith with the asset class, some said.

"I still remain fairly positive that after this pause markets will move higher," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.

Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments, meanwhile, said: "I get the feeling that people are more looking to put money into the market than they are to take profits at this moment in time."

Standard Life Investments has around 163 billion pounds ($253.1 billion) of assets under management.

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