Europe shares steady as December taper expectations rise

Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:56am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.2 pct
    * Market fails to rebound from last week's 3.5 pct slide
    * Investors seen booking profits as year draws to a close

    By Blaise Robinson
    PARIS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - European stocks inched higher on
Tuesday but remained in a tight range as uncertainty over the
timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's expected reduction of its
stimulus programme kept investors on edge.
    Shares in Airbus parent EADS fell 1.6 percent,
extending recent losses, as the European plane maker came under
fire from shareholders France and Germany over plans to cut
5,800 jobs. 
    At 1120 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top 
European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,274.71 points, failing
to bounce back convincingly from last week's 3.5 percent slide.
    Late on Monday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a
voting member on the U.S. central bank's policymaking committee,
said the Fed could reduce its monthly bond purchases slightly
this month, sooner than most economists expect. 
    "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 mounting expectations that the Fed would soon
start to trim its $85 billion a month of bond buying.
    "It's 'wait-and-see' until the Fed's policy meeting next
week, although there is still room on the downside," Global
Equities head of quantitative sales trading David Thebault said.
    "The best thing to do is to prepare a list of stocks you
want to buy, and when the market further drops, it will be time
to scoop up the shares."
    Heavyweight miners were among the top losers on Tuesday,
with BHP Billiton down 1.1 percent and Vedanta Resources
 down 1.5 percent.
    Dutch oil and chemicals storage firm Vopak fell
2.8 percent after warning about its outlook.
    Around Europe, the UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.2
percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.2 percent and
France's CAC 40 up 0.1 percent.
    The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
was up 0.2 percent at 2,996.34 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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