European shares track Wall St lower on Fed concerns

Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:36am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct

* Reverses earlier gains as Wall Street opens lower

* U.S. budget deal seen opening the door for Fed taper

By Toni Vorobyova

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - European shares eased in late trade on Wednesday, as increased certainty over U.S. government spending following a budget deal there was overshadowed by growing expectations that a scaling back of Federal Reserve stimulus is imminent.

U.S.-exposed stocks such as cement-maker Lafarge and defence contractor BAE Systems were among the beneficiaries after budget negotiators in Washington reached a provisional two-year deal to avoid another government shutdown. Their shares added 2.6 and 2.4 percent respectively.

For the broader market, though, the implications were less clear, with some suggesting a resolution on the budget could pave the way for the Fed to start scaling back its equity-friendly stimulus as soon as next week's meeting.

"It's good news, but ... as there is more evidence of such an agreement everybody will think that the Fed will have no reason to wait more to reduce their purchases of bonds and asset backed securities. So it's good news, but is it good enough?" said Vincent Guenzi, chief strategist at Cholet Dupont.

The FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.3 percent at 1,258.89 points by 1510 GMT, having given up earlier gains after Wall Street opened lower.

Royal Bank of Scotland led the fallers in Europe with a 3.3 percent drop after its finance director, Nathan Bostock, resigned to join Santander.

The biggest boost, meanwhile, came from EADS, which rose first on the U.S. news and then extended gains after the aerospace company pledged to grow its dividends and reaffirmed targets on operating profits.

"It's a top pick for me, so I am confident on the company," Cholet Dupont's Guenzi said.

"As they reconfirmed their margin targets, I think that is very good for the near term, and for next year. The stock is not very expensive so I think you can still target ... 10 percent just to regain the discount with Boeing."

EADS shares were up 7.6 percent, on track for their biggest one-day rally in a year and in heavy volumes already more than double their 90-day daily average.

Activity on the broader market was more subdued, with uncertainty over Fed policy keeping many players away. An hour before the close, volumes for the FTSEurofirst 300 were just 42 percent of their daily average.

Turnover in the euro zone's blue-chip EuroSTOXX 50 was near 40 percent of its daily average, with the index down 0.1 percent at 2,958.70 points.

The EuroSTOXX 50 has dropped 4 percent in December, taking it below its 50-day moving average to darken the near-term technical picture.

"I'm not sure that we've seen the bottom ... Last week's closing low, at 2,953, is now the key level and if that gives way I think we could see a retreat back to 2,900," Charles Stanley analyst Bill McNamara said.

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.