European shares dented by gloomy data, earnings

LONDON, April 18 Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:36am EDT

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - European indexes pared gains to end steady on Thursday after more weak corporate and economic data in the United States and Europe heightened fears over the growth outlook.

The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed flat at 1,147.80 points, having fallen from a session high of 1,154.62, and is down 3.5 percent so far in the current quarter.

Banks were the worst-hit sector, down 1.1 percent, with French bank Societe Generale among the top fallers, down 3.4 percent. Traders cited weak results from U.S. peer Morgan Stanley as contributing to the decline.

That followed earlier weak earnings from European companies including Sodexo and Nokia, down 9.6 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.

"We're going into this earnings season with very low expectations. That's not a problem in and of itself, it's how much better or worse we do than that," Daniel Morris, market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said.

Sentiment was further bruised by weak fatory activity out of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, a concern for many investors looking for U.S. growth to help support earnings and offset weakness in Europe.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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