* FTSE 100, FTSE 350 flat after rally
* Foxtons lead declines as it eyes slowdown in transactions rate
* United Utilities hit by BofA-ML downgrade - traders
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Britain’s equity indexes steadied early on Wednesday as some fresh, worrying signals about the European economy dampened investor appetite for shares after a strong run.
Mid-cap estate agency Foxtons led declines on the broad FTSE 350 index as it fell 5.3 percent after saying it expected to see a slow down in the rapid rate of property transactions in the second half of the year, due to government measures aimed at controlling mortgage lending.
The group said that expectations of an increase in interest rates were already having an impact on short-term demand.
Curbing investor appetite in the broader market, data showed German consumer morale fell for the first time in more than 1-1/2 years heading into September as shoppers grew more wary of the impact on Europe’s largest economy of sanctions on Russia and other international conflicts.
Meanwhile, Italy’s economy minister said the euro zone’s No.3 economy must lower its output growth forecast, a move which could bring the government into line with most economists who expect little or no growth this year.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was flat at 6,822.79 points at 0749 GMT, with the broader FTSE 350 also unchanged at 3,710.64 points.
The FTSE 100 has risen 4.5 percent over the past 2-1/2 weeks, boosted by speculation the European Central Bank would intervene again to shore up the euro bloc’s struggling economy. The index was now less than 1 percent away from a 14-year high of 6,875 points hit in May.
“There’s a lot of confidence returning to market with the ECB (speculation),” Chris Beauchamp, a strategist at spreadbetter IG, said.
“We’re seeing another turn for the FTSE back towards the 6,900 level. The question is if we can get beyond that, given that each time we tested that level over the past few months we have fallen back.”
Four UK blue-chip stocks are due to go ex-dividend on Wednesday, shaving up to 2.05 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.
Aside from ex-dividend stocks, United Utilities was the largest FTSE faller as it shed 1.7 percent, with traders citing a downgrade by analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. (Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)