Carrefour falls as Europe equity pullback deepens

Wed Jun 5, 2013 6:39am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.6 pct

* Euro STOXX 50 falls 0.7 pct

* Concerns remain over tapering of Fed's stimulus measures

* Carrefour hit by HSBC downgrade

* Too risky to bet against market momentum -MB Capital

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday as fresh concerns about a possible tapering in U.S economic stimulus measures hit markets, while a broker downgrade knocked back supermarket retailer Carrefour.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which touched a 5-year high of 1,258.09 points in late May, fell 0.6 percent to 1,204.44 points in mid-session trade.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also retreated by 0.7 percent to 2,737.37 points.

French group Carrefour was among the worst performers on the FTSEurofirst 300, falling 4.6 percent which traders attributed to HSBC's decision to cut its rating on the stock to "underweight" from "neutral".

Equities have retreated from last month's peaks on mounting expectations that increasing signs of a U.S. economic recovery may lead the U.S. Federal Reserve central bank to taper stimulus measures that have aided a stock market rally this year.

Traders cited comments from Fed official Esther George, who said she supported slowing down the pace of bond purchases as the main reason for the latest stock market fall on Wednesday.

MB Capital trading director Marcus Bullus said that, rather than trying to guess what the Fed's next comments on its monetary policy might be, he would follow the stock market momentum as he felt this was a less risky strategy.

"I'm looking at the momentum and looking to sell into it if the market is dropping, rather than trying to go against the trend," he said.

Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths felt Germany's DAX, which was down by 0.5 percent at 8,258.20 points having hit record highs of 8,557.86 points last month, could weaken further in coming sessions to fall below the 8,000 point mark.

He added the Euro STOXX 50 could fall to 2,650 points by the end of next week, although technical traders pointed to a possible support level for the Euro STOXX 50 at around the 2,710 points level, which represents its 50-day simple moving average.

The FTSEurofirst 300 has risen some 6 percent since the start of 2013 while the Euro STOXX 50 has advanced by 4 percent, and Central Markets strategist Richard Perry said now could be a good time to trim equity holdings to cash-in on those gains.

"With ample profits still sitting on the table, as markets begin to slide, the temptation to lock in some profits will be growing," he said.

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