* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 percent
* TeliaSonera, H&M, Diageo drop on earnings news
* HSBC spikes briefly, traders blame 'fat finger'
* Weak Chinese data weighs on sentiment
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Jan 30 European shares fell on Thursday,
losing ground for the fifth time in six sessions as weaker
earnings and persistent concerns over emerging markets
Spirits maker Diageo topped the FTSEurofirst 300
fallers' list with a 5.3 percent drop after reporting slower
sales growth for the last six months due to weakening demand in
China and some other emerging markets.
Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera and fashion
retailer Hennes & Mauritz, meanwhile, nursed respective
losses of 3.7 percent and 3.2 percent after posting
fourth-quarter profits below expectations.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.3 percent at
1,286.23 points by 1216 GMT.
The index briefly erased losses to turn flat earlier, pushed
up by heavyweight bank HSBC which spiked as much as 10
percent - a move traders blamed on human error, known in the
market as a 'fat finger'. HSBC declined to comment on the move.
Investors have been on edge in recent days as unease about
slowing Chinese growth and the withdrawal of U.S. monetary
stimulus spread from emerging market currencies to the world's
big stock markets.
European stocks have come under intense selling pressure,
with the FTSEurofirst 300 losing more than 4 percent over six
sessions as investors dumped risky assets such as equities.
Pointing to a weak start for China's economy in 2014, the
Markit/HSBC final manufacturing purchasing mangers' survey
showed Chinese factory activity contracted slightly this month.
Late on Wednesday, the Fed said it would trim its bond
purchases by another $10 billion, as it stuck to a plan to scale
back its stimulus despite recent turmoil in emerging markets.
"Nobody knows how much further we could go to the downside;
I suspect not too much more because I still think this is a
pullback in an overall (bullish) trend, and we're still telling
clients to use these pullbacks to increase positions," Philippe
Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets
in Brussels, said.
Alongside the emerging market worries, investor concern has
focused on the current earnings season, and whether it will
result in profits strong enough to justify lofty valuations
after a bumper 2013.
The STOXX Europe 600 is trading on a 12-month forward
price/earnings ratio of 14 times against its 10-year average of
11.9 times, Thomson Reuters Datastream shows.
"I just don't know how you can justify further multiple
expansion at the moment. The reasons for that multiple had a lot
to do with central bank stimulus which has not been withdrawn
yet but is certainly not continuing at the pace it was," Peel
Hunt equity strategist Ian Williams said.
According to StarMine SmartEstimates, which focus on the
up-to-date predictions of the historically most accurate
analysts, STOXX Europe 600 companies are on average seen missing
consensus quarterly profit forecasts by 2.7 percent.
Europe bourses in 2014:
Asset performance in 2014:
Today's European research round-up: