European shares dip as Carlsberg warns on Russia profits

Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:00am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct

* Carlsberg warns of deteriorating conditions in Russia

* Heineken surges after forecast-beating results

* Luxottica weakens on reports CEO to step down

By Tricia Wright and Blaise Robinson

LONDON/PARIS Aug 20 (Reuters) - European shares dipped on Wednesday, ending a two-day rally, with investors rattled by Carlsberg warning that profits would fall this year due to deteriorating conditions in Russia.

Shares in the Danish brewer fell 2.8 percent. It derives 35 percent of its profits from Russia, making it a test case of how European companies will be affected by tit-for-tat sanctions between the West and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

Shares in rival Heineken, however, surged 7.8 percent after the brewer posted better-than-expected first-half operating profit, as it sped up cost savings and grew volumes in all regions bar Central and Eastern Europe.

Investors were wary about equities, hit in the last few weeks by fears of an escalation in the Ukrainian crisis which has revealed new vulnerabilities in Europe's stumbling economy.

The violence in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, a major energy supplier to Europe, have muddied the forecasts of a number of multinationals including Henkel, Adidas and Rheinmetall.

"It (Carlsberg's warning) basically feeds into the narrative that for all the optimism about the recent bounce-back in the markets the same underlying problems remain," CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson said.

"Central bank accommodation can only get you so far and the likelihood is that the Bank of England and the Fed are looking to end their support for the economy, or start to edge interest rates up," he said.

Bank of England minutes showed two policymakers voted for an interest rate hike in August. Some in the market had expected only one member of the bank's Monetary Policy Committee to do so and the news prompted the market to bring forward expectations for a first UK interest rate rise to five months' time.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to release minutes from its July 29-30 policy meeting at 1800 GMT. The minutes may shed further light on how the bank plans to eventually exit from its extraordinary monetary stimulus, and could also show whether there is a growing divide over when to raise interest rates.

At 1116 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,345.16 points, after gaining 1.8 percent in the past two sessions.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.3 percent to 3,080.50 points.

"The recent rebound from the June-August drop should help European indexes retrace about 50 percent of the pullback, but beyond that, the upside potential is quite limited. Indexes are stuck in a range," Aurel BGC analyst Gerard Sagnier said.

The FTSEurofirst 300 - which had tumbled 7 percent between late June and early August - has recovered nearly half of the slide, with the index testing the 50 percent Fibonacci retracement level on Wednesday, at 1,348.11 points.

Shares in Luxottica, the world's largest eyewear maker by revenue, shed 2.8 percent on newspaper reports that CEO Andrea Guerra may step down over differences of opinion with founder and chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio. Luxottica declined to comment.

Guerra, widely seen as a driving force behind Luxottica's success in recent years, has been CEO since 2004.

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

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

Today's European research round-up (Editing by Louise Ireland)