* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 pct
* Enel, Adecco, Inditex down after results
* FTSE MIB in 6-week downtrend channel
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, March 13 European equities edged lower
on Wednesday, weighed down by a string of weak corporate
earnings and consolidating recent strong gains before what
analysts expect will be a push to fresh multi-year highs.
Italian utility Enel, staffing firm Adecco
, British security group G4S and Spanish-listed
retailer Inditex were among the companies who fell
after reporting results.
Data showing a steeper than expected fall in euro zone
factory output in January also weighed on sentiment
, as did the subdued demand and higher borrowing
costs at an Italian sovereign bond auction.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.4 percent at
1,189.47 points by 0823 GMT, edging further away from a
4-1/2 year peak of 1,197.73 points set at the end of last week.
"The main risk in the short term is the lack of growth in
Europe. The hard economic data are not falling into place at the
moment," said Paul Jackson, strategist at Societe Generale.
"They (European equities) do need a break for a short term.
They need to take a bit of a breather, but longer term European
equities are undervalued."
Among the major regional indexes, the Italian FTSE MIB was
the biggest faller, extending losses after the bond auction to
trade down 1.8 percent at one week lows.
Unlike most of its peers - which have recently hit
multi-year highs - the Italian benchmark has been stuck in a
technical downtrend channel for the past six weeks, with
investors spooked by political uncertainty in the face of an
Around a third of Wednesday's fall, however, came from
heavyweight Enel, which dropped 5.6 percent after it posted a
slump in 2012 profits and said this year's earnings will be even
weaker. Spain's Endesa, in which Enel owns 92 percent, dropped
European utilities have been among the worst
performers in the current reporting season, with 47 percent
missing full year earnings expectations against the sector-wide
average of 40 percent, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
"It's difficult to see a positive environment for that
sector at the moment, because it's difficult to see governments
allowing them to pass on any costs to consumers ... It's
probably the most underweighted sector across the board," said
Kevin Lilley, European equities fund manager at Old Mutual AM.
Overall, though, he played down the significance of this
earnings season's misses.
"We are in the transitionary phase of the cycle - leading
indicators started bottoming out in the fourth quarter, but that
hasn't fed through yet into the real economy... Second-quarter
figures should show a better trajectory," he said.
"I am positioned for a bullish market and growth, with a 6
percent overweight on cyclicals and ... with no cash."