European shares retreat as Lufthansa drags down travel stocks

Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:32pm EDT

* Airline stocks slump after Lufthansa warning

* Lufthansa down 14 pct, Air France falls 7 pct

* DAX drops back below 10,000 points

* FTSEurofirst 300 ends down 0.5 pct at 1,391.59 points

* Some traders see pullback as short-lived

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - European equity markets retreated from multi-year highs on Wednesday as a profit warning from German airline Lufthansa hit travel stocks.

Lufthansa slumped by 14.2 percent in heavy volume after the company said it would not reach its profit targets for the next two years, and the fall in its share price dragged other airlines down with it.

Air France KLM fell 7 percent, International Consolidated Airlines Group dropped by 3 percent and the regional STOXX Europe 600 Travel & Leisure Index fell 1.5 percent.

Aerospace group Airbus also weakened by 3.1 percent after Dubai's Emirates airline canceled a contract with the company.

Lufthansa's woes weighed on the broader German stock market, with the benchmark DAX index falling 0.8 percent to 9,949.81 points, retreating from a record high of 10,033.74 points reached earlier in the week.

"It's looking pretty bearish for the whole airline sector," said Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths.

TEMPORARY SETBACK?

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had hit its highest level in more than 6 years earlier this week, fell 0.5 percent to 1,391.59 points.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index, which also touched 6-year highs this week, fell 0.8 percent to 3,289.09 points.

Griffiths expected European equity markets, which had hit multi-year highs over the last week after the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled new economic stimulus measures, to edge lower in the coming sessions.

He said the DAX could fall to 9,600 points while the Euro STOXX 50 could retreat to 3,100, but expected any pullback to be short-lived due to what he described as the ECB's "safety net."

Matthias Thiel, market strategist at German bank MM Warburg, also expected European stock markets to resume their upwards trend soon, and for the DAX to climb back above 10,000 points.

"It is a temporary setback after the recent rally, and the market should soon go up again," he said.

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 Alistair Smout; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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