* FTSEurofirst 300 flat; Portugal's PSI down 2.1 pct
* Cement makers lead declines as forex hits results
* Total's stock hit by worries over Russia investment
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, July 30 Cement makers lagged European
equity indexes on Wednesday, after Switzerland's Holcim
and Germany's HeidelbergCement reported
disappointing results that they blamed on weak emerging-market
Their shares fell 4.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively,
leaving the STOXX Europe 600 down 1 percent. The sector
was the worst performer in Europe.
French electrical-gear maker Schneider Electric,
down 2 percent, also blamed the depreciation of several
currencies against the euro for disappointing sales growth in
the first half of the year.
Companies in the STOXX Europe 600 that have reported
quarterly results so far have seen their sales drop by an
average 1 percent, StarMine data showed.
While stronger currencies in developed Europe played a role
in the decline, some strategists were starting to worry about
weaker demand in Europe, which is struggling with low growth and
"It's not so much about the currency, there's no demand from
end-customers in Europe," said Claudia Panseri, global equity
strategist at Societe Generale. "With prices also falling, I see
Bucking the trend was French car maker Peugeot,
which surged 6.7 percent after it posted the first positive
contribution from its core auto division in three years in the
first six months of 2014.
Dutch telecoms group KPN rose 6 percent after
reporting a better-than-expected second-quarter core profit,
although it was helped in part by cost cuts.
By 1334 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was flat at 1,373.34 points. It had briefly
edged high after the publication of better-than-expected U.S.
French oil major Total fell 2.6 percent after
saying that it had stopped buying shares in Russia's Novatek
the day of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight
Portugal's PSI 20 fell 2.1 percent, underperforming
all major European indexes, as retailer Jeronimo Martins
and Banco Espirito Santo each fell nearly 10
percent. Jeronimo Martins is struggling with deflation in its
two main markets, Poland and Portugal, and BES fell amid concern
it will report a loss later on Wednesday and will require a
U.S. GDP FAILS TO COMFORT INVESTORS
European investors failed to benefit from data showing U.S.
economic growth accelerated more than expected in the second
quarter, partly due to inventories.
The GDP report was released hours before Federal Reserve
officials conclude a two-day policy meeting. It could fuel
debate on whether the central bank needs to raise interest rates
sooner than expected, a move that would affect borrowing costs
"The Federal Reserve was expecting a rebound, and I don't
think they are going to be too heavily swayed by these changes,"
John Clarke, chief investment officer at GHC Capital Markets,
said. "My concerns about European equities is that investors are
discounting too much in terms of European economic recovery."
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by Larry King)