European shares fall for 3rd day, Carlsberg leads market lower

Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:11pm EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 dips 0.2 pct
    * Carlsberg drops 5.8 pct after results miss
    * Natixis surges 22.5 pct on restructuring plan

    By Tricia Wright
    LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - European shares dipped for a
third straight session on Monday, led by Danish brewer Carlsberg
 after disappointing earnings, and some analysts
expected further weakness in the market in the near term.
    The world's fourth-biggest brewer posted a
weaker-than-expected quarterly profit as sales stalled in key
market Russia and remained sluggish in western Europe, sending
its shares tumbling 5.8 percent. 
    Trading volume in Carlsberg was robust, at almost five times
its 90-day daily average.
    The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.2 percent at
1,159.29, after a lacklustre session with Wall Street closed for
President's Day and retreating further from a two-year closing
peak of 1,177.79 scaled at the end of January.
    Trading volume on the index stood at just 68 percent of its
90-day daily average.
    Some strategists reckoned the recent sell-off was more of a
pause than the start of a serious correction, following a rally
that has propelled the FTSEurofirst 300 some 22 percent above
lows seen last June, and that any dips should be seen as a
buying opportunity.
    "There's every chance that markets could go a little bit
lower in the short term," Henk Potts, market strategist at
Barclays, said, although he was more confident further out.
    "I still think in the medium to long term the fundamentals
remain incredibly supportive around corporate profitability
growth, around M&A activity, health of balance sheets, and
undemanding valuations."
    The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index,
however, ended up 0.1 percent at 2,616.65. It stabilised after
two sessions of losses, which drove it below a support line
drawn from its low in July through its trough in November.
    Charles Stanley technical analyst Bill McNamara said the
breach of this support, alongside four thwarted attempts in
February to break above the 50-day moving average, at 2,669,
indicated that the technical outlook was deteriorating.
    "I'm not going to take my long positions off or put on any
shorts until I see it break below that closing low that was
posted on the 7th of this month (the recent intermediate low at
2,597)," he said.
    Should it breach this, and take out the intermediate high
from Sept. 14, at 2,594, "that would amount to compelling
evidence that it's entered into a corrective phase", he said.
    Among bright spots, Natixis jumped 22.5 percent
after the French bank said it would simplify its finances by
shedding a 20 percent stake in BPCE, a network of cooperative
lenders which controls it, paving the way for higher dividends.
    Trading volume in Natixis totalled almost 14 times its
90-day daily average.
    The transaction should boost Natixis' regulatory capital
under Basel 3 rules, in addition to allowing it to pay back 2
billion euros to shareholders, analysts said.
    "The transaction makes financial sense via improvement in
efficiency and profitability and simplification of group
structure while returning significant capital to shareholders,"
Citi said, lifting its rating for Natixis to "buy".
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