* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, just off 6-year high
* Media stocks lead fallers as Mediaset, ITV disappoint
* Portugal stocks sag; talk of capital hike hitting banks
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, May 14 Weak corporate updates,
especially in the media sector, caused European shares to pause
on Wednesday after a two month-rally that has propelled many
regional indexes to multi-year highs.
The STOXX Europe 600 media index fell 1.3 percent,
the worst performer among sector indexes, as disappointing
results by broadcasters ITV and Mediaset cast a
shadow on a strong reporting season so far for the industry.
Around 67 percent of media companies in the STOXX Europe 600
index that reported results through May 13 met or beat consensus
estimates, compared to roughly half for the index as a whole,
StarMine data shows.
Shares in ITV, which will broadcast the World Cup finals in
June, had risen 5 percent over the previous two weeks,
suggesting investor expectations of the results were high.
"The market was looking for a set of numbers that would
allow for upgrades to consensus forecasts and they did not get
that today," Jefferies & Company analyst David Reynolds said.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
closed flat at 1,368.38 points after touching 1,369.22 points
earlier in the session, a high not seen since May 2008.
Credit Suisse Group advanced 0.6 percent,
steadying after a 2.7 percent fall on Tuesday, when the Swiss
lender's stock went ex-dividend.
European stocks have been lifted by expectations the
European Central Bank will take new steps as soon as next month
to keep inflation from staying too low. The FTSEurofirst 300
rose some 7 percent from lows in March.
Portugal's PSI 20 index fell 3.4 percent, led lower
by banking stocks after a report said Millennium bcp
was considering a capital increase.
A spokesman for the bank, Portugal's largest private lender,
said on Wednesday it has made no decision about a possible
Shares in Millennium were down 10.8 percent. Banco Espirito
Santo lost 8.2 percent.
The PSI 20 had outperformed broad European indexes in the
first four months of the year, rising as much as 19 percent as
Portuguese bond yields dropped and investor confidence in the
country improved ahead of an exit from its bailout programme.
But Portuguese stocks started to fall in mid-April, and the
PSI 20 hit a near three-month low on Wednesday.
A number of traders said the rally could run out of steam as
investors look for an opportunity to cash in on its rise.
Peripheral euro zone markets, including Italy and Portugal, have
seen profit-taking this week after outperforming in 2014.
"For me, it's overdone here, and there's a pullback coming,"
said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson and Alexandre
Boksenbaum-Granier in Paris; Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing
by Catherine Evans)