European shares pegged back by Syria concerns
* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct
* Ryanair leads fallers after profit warning
* Saxo recommends options for those seeking Syria protection
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - European shares edged lower on Wednesday, with signs of improvement in the global economy outweighed by concerns about the situation in Syria.
Euro zone Purchasing Managers' Indexes were expected to confirm a pick-up in business activity in August, following solid data in China and stronger-than-expected U.S. manufacturing figures earlier this week.
For European equities, though, any upward pull from economic optimism was constrained by the situation in the Middle East.
U.S. President Barack Obama won backing for a Syria strike from key Congress figures, while Russia signalled that it did not rule out agreeing to military action if Damascus were proven to have carried out a chemical weapons attack.
The pan-European Eurofirst 300 share index was down 0.1 percent at 1,210.70 points by 0720 GMT.
"It's very difficult to gauge in advance what impact Syria will have on the markets ... If you are afraid of the war in Syria, you should buy out-of-the money put options on equities and out-of-the money call options on oil and volatility," said Peter Garnry, equity strategist at Saxo Bank.
Analysts at Societe Generale estimate that losses for the broader equity market will be limited unless crude prices spike to $150 - from around $115 now - although oil-dependent sectors like transport are likely to feel the pain sooner.
That could be bad news for the airline industry, which is still struggling with the consequences of European austerity.
Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, was the top faller on the FTSEurofirst 300, off 13.4 percent after warning that weak bookings will drag on profits.
"It's a disappointing release from the airline industry which is currently also feeling the pressure on the increase in oil prices due to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East," Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, said in a note.
"European airlines could see a further deterioration to profits if we see a Western military intervention in Syria for a protracted period. Today's warnings by Ryanair, in that case, may be echoed by its peers in the months ahead."
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