European shares slip further; Peugeot tumbles

Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:00am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.2 pct

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 4.8 percent in 2 weeks

* Peugeot shares tumble again as GM offload stake

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Dec 13 (Reuters) - European stocks inched lower on Friday in light volumes, adding to a near 5 percent pullback in two weeks, as investors remained on edge ahead of next week's U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting.

A recent batch of strong U.S. economic data has fuelled speculation that the Fed could start winding down its stimulus measures as soon as next week. That has prompted investors to book profits on risky assets which have strongly benefited from the central bank's massive liquidity injection.

At 1533 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,242.91 points, after hitting a two-month low earlier in the session.

The benchmark index - which was up 15 percent on the year at the end of November - has dropped about 4.8 percent since then, its biggest decline in six months.

"For now, we're waiting for the Fed meeting next week before re-entering the market, although the recent slide is creating good buying opportunities," Barclays France director Franklin Pichard said.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.04 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.1 percent, and France's CAC 40 down 0.2 percent.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was down 0.2 percent at 2,922.99 points.

Shares in UK insurer RSA were among the biggest losers, down 11.8 percent after it warned earnings would fall in 2013 and it might cut its dividend, leading the CEO to resign.

French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen tumbled 12 percent, extending the losses from Monday night to 24 percent, after U.S. alliance partner General Motors sold its 7 percent stake at a steep discount.

Peugeot's stock remains one of the most shorted across Europe. Some 13.4 percent of its shares are out on loan, as hedge funds bet the share price will fall further.

The stock sank 7.6 percent on Thursday after the group announced a big writedown and confirmed that it was mulling a capital increase.

"A lot of hedge funds have been expecting a capital increase, so borrowing of the shares have been brisk. The GM stake sale is a bonus," said David Noble, risk arbitrage trader at Louis Capital Markets, in London.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article