Weakness at Danske Bank leads Euro shares lower
EUROPEAN shares edged lower early today, led by Denmark's Danske Bank on capital concerns while more broadly investors remained cautious ahead of a two-day meeting of the US Federal Reserve.
Danske Banke fell 6.7pc after Danish regulators ordered the country's biggest financial institution to set aside more capital.
By 0732 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 2.04 points, or 0.2pc at 1,182.32, tracking weakness overnight in Asia and an off-high finish in the United States, which traders attributed to an article in the Financial Times that fanned concerns the Fed could signal it will scale back its stimulus programme.
"There might be some volatility now ahead of the Fed decision although we expect volumes to be light and the rumour mill to be in overdrive as to what might be said," Mark Ward head of execution trading at Sanlam Securities, said.
"The most likely outcome of the FOMC meet will be Bernanke suggesting the Fed will start to taper (off) its monetary stimulus programme if the economic recovery picks up, although carefully worded so as to not wobble the markets," he said.
Company results were also in focus with Aggreko down 1.6pc having failed to assuage concerns over waning profitability in its latest update following two recent profit warnings.
The temporary power provider said it would likely meet expectations in the first half of the year, but traders remained worried by underlying slowing growth in Asia and emerging markets.
Britain's Whitbread topped the risers list, up 4.1pc and hitting a fresh all time high after posting a 3.1pc rise in first quarter sales boosted by demand for hot drinks at its Costa Coffee chain.
"Whitbread remains firmly on track to achieve (recently revised upward 5 year plan targets). Whitbread trades on 18.4 times 2014 forecasts, with mid single digit earnings growth, however we see scope for our earnings forecasts to rise," Shore Capital said in a note.
Kabel Deutschland, Germany's biggest cable operator, rose 4.5pc after confirming US media group Liberty Global Plc joined in a bidding war with UK-listed mobile communications firm Vodafone for the company.
A British newspaper reported that Liberty had put forward a €7.5bn bid for Kabel.