European shares steady; Vopak tumbles
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.02 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.1 pct * Market fails to rebound from last week's slide * Investors seen booking profits as year draws to a close By Blaise Robinson PARIS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - European stocks were steady in early trade on Tuesday as uncertainty over the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's reduction of its stimulus programme kept investors on edge. At 0832 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.02 percent at 1,272.66 points, failing to rebound from last week's sell-off. "Stocks are struggling to bounce back towards year highs because investors are petrified by the prospect of less liquidity from central banks," said Guillaume Dumans, co-head of research firm 2Bremans. "With the year almost over, more and more investors are cutting their positions instead of just putting stop losses. They want to preserve their annual performance." Stocks have rallied strongly this year, with the FTSEurofirst 300 up 12 percent, but the run-up stalled in late October following a raft of lower-than-expected corporate results and on expectations that the Fed would soon start to trim its bond buying. Late on Monday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member on the Fed's policymaking committee, said the central bank could slightly reduce its monthly bond purchases this month, in reaction to signs of an improved labour market. Heavyweight miners were among the top losers, with Rio Tinto down 0.9 percent and BHP Billiton down 1 percent. Dutch oil and chemicals storage firm Vopak fell 5.3 percent to the bottom of the FTSEurofirst 300 after warning about its outlook. Around Europe, the UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.03 percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.2 percent and France's CAC 40 flat. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.1 percent at 2,992.61 points. After failing to break above an October peak around 3,100 points, the index sharply fell last week, losing nearly 5 percent and falling below its 50-day moving average, which sent a negative technical signal. "From a short-term perspective, the index concluded its June uptrend with a profit-taking signal and entered a consolidation, which should continue in the coming days," Sophia Wurm, technical analyst at Commerzbank, said.
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