* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 0.1 percent
* Retail sector down after poor company updates
* Charts point to gains in the near-term
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Jan 16 European equities edged lower
early on Thursday after climbing to a 5-1/2-year high in the
previous session, with poor sales number from Dutch grocer Ahold
and a cautious outlook from Dixons hurting
The STOXX Europe 600 retail index fell 0.7 percent,
the top decliner. Ahold fell 3.7 percent on a steeper than
expected fall in fourth-quarter sales and Dixons, Europe's No. 2
electricals retailer, dropped 3 percent after cautioning on
British online grocer Ocado fell 2.5 percent
despite posting a 21.3 percent growth in gross sales, with its
Chief Executive Tim Steiner saying the retail environment
remained both challenging and competitive, with consumer
"The retail sector is under pressure due to some
disappointing comments on the sector. It is clear that the
austerity in the euro zone has hurt the sector," Philippe
Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets
in Brussels, said.
"However, as the economy is on the mend and we are likely to
see some decent growth in the world economy, things should pick
up in 2014."
Weaker retail stocks put some pressure on the pan-European
FTSEurofirst 300 index, which fell 0.1 percent to
1,338.34 points by 0856 GMT after climbing 1 percent to a
5-1/2-year high in the previous session on encouraging U.S. data
and some positive company results.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
fell 0.2 percent to 3,161.98 points, but charts suggested that
recent price action had been positive for the index and it was
poised to rise again in the near-term before retreating.
"The index is showing a bullish consolidation pattern,
suggesting an upside potential of 90 points. The trend is
definitely up and I am looking for a rally to around 3,200-3,220
in the near term," Roelof-Jan van den Akker, senior technical
analyst at ING Commercial Banking, said.
"After testing the 3,200-3,220 area, we could see some
pullback from where prices might rally towards the next strong
horizontal resistance at 3,445."
Among other movers, Aberdeen Asset Management fell 4
percent, the top FTSEurofirst faller, after it said clients
withdrew a net 4.4 billion pounds ($7.19 billion) in the last
three months of 2013.