European shares edge to fresh five-year highs in thin trade

LONDON Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:09am EST

LONDON Dec 30 (Reuters) - European stocks edged higher on Monday, consolidating after two weeks of strong gains that have pulled markets to five-year highs, with the session expected to be quiet as it fell in the midst of a seasonal holiday period.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was 0.34 points higher at 1,314.63, having ended up 1.1 percent at 1,314.29 points on Friday, its highest closing level since mid-2008.

The benchmark index, which has surged 5.3 percent since Dec. 17, is on track to post a gain of 16 percent for 2013, with just two sessions left in the year.

Craig Erlam, market strategist at Alpari, said many investors expected the recent strong trend to continue into January, although near-term trade would likely be muted.

"Trading volumes are expected to remain low for most of this week, if not all of it, with another bank holiday coming on Wednesday. Volumes on Monday and Tuesday should be particularly low, as traders extend their holidays from last week through to the end of the year."

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

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