August 6, 2013 / 7:56 AM / 5 years ago

European shares stutter approaching year highs

* FTSEurofirst 300 flat at 1,225.79

* Intertek lifted by RBC upgrade

* Credit Agricole profit rises twelvefold

* Standard Chartered due to report at 0815 GMT

* Lanxess, Fresnillo knocked by results

By David Brett

LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - European shares were flat early on Tuesday after indexes fell in the United States and in Asia and amid signs that a rally was running out of steam as key indexes approach 2013 highs.

By 0732 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was flat at 1,225.79, while the index of euro zone blue chip shares was at 2,807.95.

The indexes were approaching the year highs they reached in May of 1,258.09 and 2,851.48, respectively, levels from which they both sold off sharply.

In the short-term, the FTSEurofirst 300 and the STOXX50e could stutter with the indexes both in overbought territory, according to their nine-day relative strength indicators.

“The dog days of summer have arrived and after a profitable run from the late June lows, equity investors might just be anticipating a period of consolidation, assuming a quieter spell of macro and political news,” said Ian Williams, equity strategist at Peel Hunt.

Technology shares were strong early on, with British testing firm Intertek Group up 4.1 percent after RBC upgraded the company to “sectorperform” from “underperform”.

“We like the testing structural growth story, comparatives are now more benign and we see a pick up in M&A as likely,” RBC said.

Banks were in focus with French Credit Agricole up 3.9 percent after reporting a more than twelvefold increase in quarterly profit year-on-year.

Asia-focused lender Standard Chartered is due to post its first-half results at 0815 GMT.

It will expect to fare better than Europe’s largest bank HSBC, which extended recent losses, down 0.8 percent as Deutsche Bank cut its rating on the company to “hold” from “buy” following weaker-than-expected results on Monday.

With no signs of recovery in auto markets and growth in China slowing, Lanxess slid 6.4 percent as the German chemicals company issued a profit warning.

Earnings expectations continue to be downgraded for European companies, with third-quarter estimates cut by an average of 3 percent for those companies which have already reported earnings in the current quarter, according to Starmine data.

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline fell 1 percent after Citigroup cut its rating to “neutral” from “buy”, while consumer goods firm Unilever NV shed 1 percent after JP Morgan downgraded its recommendation to “neutral” from “overweight”.

Investors will look at UK industrial output data for June at 0830 GMT, Germany’s industrial orders for June at 1000 GMT, Italy’s preliminary gross domestic product for the second quarter at 0900 GMT and U.S. international trade data for June at 1230 GMT for hints about the market’s near-term direction.

“The trend in both the UK and Germany has been steady improvement and expectations on the whole have been met or beaten in most cases, so we would not rule out good numbers again,” IG Markets said in a note.

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