* FTSEurofirst 300 flat after setting 6-year highs
* Strong results from Richemont prop up market
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, May 15 European stock markets steadied
near multi-year highs on Thursday, with Germany's DAX
touching a record peak as solid earnings from leading companies
including Richemont propped up equities.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat at
1,367.88 points in mid-session trading, hovering just below a
6-year high of 1,372.81 points reached earlier in the day.
Germany's DAX hit a record high of 9,810.29 points before
edging back to trade flat at 9,757.03 points, while the euro
zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index dipped 0.2
percent to 3,205.16 points.
A 5.2 percent rise at Swiss luxury goods company Richemont
added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300, after it reported
solid sales growth and announced a dividend hike and share
Over the past week, European stock markets have also been
boosted by increasing signs the European Central Bank (ECB) will
cut rates and announce other stimulus measures in June.
"It looks as if they will adjust interest rates, and that
should keep equity markets supported," said Berkeley Futures
associate director Richard Griffiths.
Griffiths said the DAX could hit 10,000 points by the end of
June, and advocated buying the German market on days when it
Other investors pointed to mixed European economic data on
Thursday as highlighting the risk of a volatile stock market
environment over the coming months.
On Thursday, data showed that while Germany posted strong
economic growth in the first quarter, France's economy flatlined
and Italy's went into reverse.
"This morning's unexpectedly weak eurozone GDP figure
prompts fresh fears for the area's recovery," said Saxo Capital
Markets UK chief executive officer Torben Kaaber.
"My view is that the ECB will eventually need to go ahead
with a stimulus package which will include interest rate cuts,
but it may be too little, too late," he added.
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 Francesco Canepa;
Editing by Larry King, John Stonestreet)