European shares fall as Iraq weighs on market, GDF a standout loser

Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:58am EDT

* Fall in GDF Suez weighs on France's CAC index

* Traders cite Iraq violence as reason for equity pullback

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1.1 pct, CAC down 1.3 pct

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday with a standout drop for utility GDF Suez and traders citing fears that violence in Iraq will escalate further as a cue for investors to cash in on last month's equity rally.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.1 percent to near its three-week low of 1,371.87 points.

France's CAC underperformed with a 1.3 percent decline, hit by a 2.3-percent drop in utility GDF Suez after the French state sold a 3.1 percent stake at 20.18 euros per share, the bottom of a range set by bookrunners.

Traders said the conflict in Iraq was providing investors with a reason to cash in on last month's rally, which saw Germany's DAX hit a record of 10,050.98 points while the FTSEurofirst rose to a 6-1/2 year high of 1,399.62 points.

"We're coming in for some healthy gains, and the tendency is to cash in those gains," Mirabaud Securities equity sales executive Rupert Baker said.

Although the price of oil edged down, traders said events in Iraq remained worrying enough to justify trimming equity positions in case the situation deteriorated.

Militants attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases and seized control of several small oilfields on Wednesday as U.S. military experts arrived to set up an operations centre to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency.

"Investors are still concerned about American foreign policy and what will be the next step in terms of any military intervention as opposed to diplomacy in the Middle East region," asset management firm B Capital's managing director Lorne Baring 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 Blaise Robinson and Atul Prakash; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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