* Fall in GDF Suez weighs on France's CAC index
* Traders cite Iraq violence as reason for equity pullback
* FTSEurofirst 300 closes down 1.1 pct at 1,372.04 points
* FTSEurofirst 300 ends at 3-week low
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, June 25 European shares fell on
Wednesday, with utility GDF Suez a standout loser, as
traders cited fears that violence in Iraq will escalate further
as a cue for investors to cash in on last month's equity rally.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down
by 1.1 percent at 1,372.04 points, marking its lowest level in
around three weeks.
France's CAC underperformed with a 1.3 percent
decline, hit by a 2.3-percent drop in utility GDF Suez
after the French state sold a 3.1 percent stake at 20.18 euros
per share, the bottom of a range set by bookrunners.
Traders said the conflict in Iraq was providing investors
with a reason to cash in on last month's rally, which saw
Germany's DAX hit a record of 10,050.98 points while
the FTSEurofirst rose to a 6-1/2 year high of 1,399.62 points.
"We're coming in for some healthy gains, and the tendency is
to cash in those gains," said Mirabaud Securities equity sales
executive Rupert Baker.
Although the price of oil edged down, traders said
events in Iraq remained worrying enough to justify trimming
equity positions in case the situation deteriorated.
Militants attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases and
seized control of several small oilfields on Wednesday as U.S.
military experts arrived to set up an operations centre to help
Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni
"Investors are still concerned about American foreign policy
and what will be the next step in terms of any military
intervention as opposed to diplomacy in the Middle East region,"
said B Capital managing director Lorne Baring.
Mike Turner, European equity options broker at XBZ Ltd, said
the longer-term trend for European stock markets remained
positive, with markets supported by economic stimulus measures
from the European Central Bank (ECB).
However, he added that concerns over Iraq would peg back
those markets in the near-term.
"We're still in reasonable shape, but we were looking a bit
toppy on the upside, and there are one or two jitters around."
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 Atul Prakash;
Editing by Louise Ireland and Louise Heavens)