European shares down on Fed's less dovish approach

Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:56am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 0.2 percent

* Fed's statement less dovish than expected

* Technip, Royal Dutch Shell drop after results

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - European shares slipped further away from five-year highs on Thursday, with the Federal Reserve's less-dovish-than-expected statement raising concerns the U.S. central bank could start trimming its stimulus sooner than foreseen.

The Fed kept its massive stimulus plan intact as the market widely expected, but did not sound as alarmed about the state of the economy as anticipated, removing a reference to tighter financial conditions from its announcement.

Investors were expecting that after a recent U.S. government shutdown and some poor economic numbers, the Fed would not start cutting its bond buying operations until the end of the first quarter of the next year.

"Markets in Europe are modestly lower after Wall Street had a change of heart following the Fed comments," said Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, referring to a retreat in U.S. stocks in the previous session.

"However, ample liquidity for the time being and a recovering world economy should keep equity markets well supported going into the new year."

At 0843 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.2 percent at 1,285.53 points after climbing to a five-year high in the previous session. However, the index remained on track to record a second straight month of gains.

The market had advanced in the past weeks on expectations of continued U.S. monetary stimulus, relief at a political deal to avert a U.S. sovereign default and some strong corporate earnings. Analysts said the focus will return to company results, which could set the market's near-term direction.

Oil services firm Technip fell 7 percent, the top decliner on the FTSEeurofirst, after cutting its full-year sales and margin targets for its sub-sea business, while Royal Dutch Shell dropped 4.7 percent after its third quarter profits undershot forecasts.

A fall in major oil companies put pressure on the energy sector, with the STOXX Europe 600 oil and gas index falling 0.8 percent, the worst sectoral performer in Europe.

On the positive side, Geberit rose 4.3 percent after the maker of sanitary equipment said sales grew 4.7 percent in the first nine months of the year and net profit rose 11.5 percent.

According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 53 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have met or beaten analysts' expectations so far this quarter, roughly in line with the average over the last few quarters.

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