* FTSEurofirst 300 index steadies
* Miners jump on positive market outlook
* Charts see 90 points gain for Euro STOXX 50
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Jan 16 European equities steadied just
below a 5-1/2-year high by midday trading on Thursday, with
mining shares boosted by output data and broker comments
offsetting losses in retail and technology stocks.
The STOXX Europe 600 basic resources index rose 2.4
percent to the top of the sectoral gainers' list. A sharp rise
in output helped Rio Tinto rise 3.4 percent and research
notes helped BHP Billiton and Polymetal
advance 3.8 percent and 5.8 percent.
A Citigroup note said it changed its 12-month sector stance
to "bullish" from "neutral" to reflect better fundamentals,
naming BHP and Rio among its key picks. Polymetal was helped by
an upgrade from UBS to "buy" from "neutral".
At 1127 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index
was down 0.05 percent at 1,339.10 points after climbing
1 percent to a 5-1/2-year high on Wednesday on encouraging U.S.
data and strong results from companies such as Bank of America
Fundamental and technical analysts remained positive on the
market's outlook, saying an improving economic outlook and
encouraging earnings would continue to support the market.
"So far, about two-thirds of the U.S. companies have beaten
their revenue forecasts. The results are fairly good so far and
fuel expectations that the fourth quarter reporting season in
Europe would also bolster the positive market trend," Christian
Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich, said.
Charts also suggested that recent price action had been
positive for the market and that the euro zone's blue-chip Euro
STOXX 50 index was poised to rise again in the
near-term. The index was down 0.3 percent at 3,159.45 points
after hitting a new five-year high earlier in the session.
"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.
However, gains in mining shares were eclipsed by losses in
some other sectors, with the retail index falling 0.9
percent on disappointing company updates. Ahold fell 3.1 percent
on a steeper-than-expected fall in fourth-quarter sales and
Dixons, Europe's No. 2 electricals retailer, dropped 5 percent
after cautioning on growth.
"The retail sector is under pressure due to some
disappointing comments ... 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, 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."
Telecom shares fell 0.7 percent, with TeliaSonera
dropping 1.3 percent after saying its fourth-quarter
profit will be weighed down by one-off items totalling 2.5
billion Swedish crowns ($386 million).