LONDON, July 23 European shares fell on Tuesday as a late sell-off knocked markets off 7-week highs reached earlier in the session, with semiconductors group STMicroelectronics leading the way after weak results.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index spent much of the day in positive territory, at one stage rising as much as 0.5 percent to a 7-week high of 1,216.36 points.
However, the index then gradually drifted lower towards the end of the day to provisionally close down by 0.2 percent at 1,208.41 points, with STMicro topping the list of FTSEurofirst fallers, down 10.3 percent.
Traders said there was no single specific factor behind the sell-off, but several cited investors looking to book profits on the earlier move up in case tech group Apple posted weak results after the close.
"We've certainly been consolidating for the last couple of sessions and there's the potential for Apple's earnings to disappoint," said Logic Investments strategy head Peter Rice.
"The risk is for further selling pressure. The likelihood is a continuation of the downward draft," he added.