European shares pause as broadcasters sag after updates

Wed May 14, 2014 10:55am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct, retreats from 6-year high

* Media stocks lead fallers as Mediaset, ITV disappoint

* Portugal stocks sag; talk of capital hike hitting banks

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - European shares paused on Wednesday as some weak corporate updates, especially in the media sector, led investors to seek a pause in a two month-rally propelling many regional indexes to multi-year highs.

The STOXX Europe 600 media index fell 1.2 percent, the worst performer among sector indexes, as disappointing results by broadcasters ITV and Mediaset cast a shadow on a strong reporting season so far for the industry.

Around 67 percent of media companies in the STOXX Europe 600 index that reported results through May 13 met or beat consensus estimates, compared to 49 percent for the index as a whole, StarMine data showed.

Shares in ITV, which will broadcast the World Cup finals in June, had risen 5 percent over the previous two weeks, suggesting investor expectations going into the results were high.

"The market was looking for a set of numbers that would allow for upgrades to consensus forecasts and they did not get that today," David Reynolds, an analyst at Jefferies & Company, said.

At 1440 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,366.93 points, after climbing to a six-year high in the previous session.

Germany's DAX was flat, hovering below a record high it reached in January.

European stocks had been lifted by expectations the European Central Bank would take new steps to keep inflation from staying too low. The FTSEurofirst 300 rose some 7 percent from lows in March.

PORTUGAL LAGS

Portugal's PSI index fell 3 percent, led lower by banking stocks after a report said Millennium bcp was considering a capital increase.

A spokesman for the bank, Portugal's largest private lender, said on Wednesday it has made no decision about a possible capital increase.

Shares in Millennium were down 9.3 percent. Banco Espirito Santo lost 7.7 percent.

The PSI 20 had outperformed broad European indexes in the first four months of the year, rising as much as 19 percent as the Portuguese bond yields dropped and investor confidence in the country improved.

But Portuguese stocks started to fall in mid-April, and the PSI 20 hit a near three-month low on Wednesday.

A number of traders said the recent rally could run out of steam as investors look for an opportunity to cash in on that rise. Peripheral euro zone markets, including Italy and Portugal, are already seeing a round of profit taking this week after outperforming since the start of the year.

"For me, it's overdone here, and there's a pullback coming," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up

(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier in Paris; Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing by Tom Heneghan)