European shares lose steam after four and half year highs
EUROPEAN shares, having earlier risen to fresh peaks, fell this afternoon with some traders looking to book profits on expectations that US economic data later this week may fail to beat forecasts.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had earlier risen to a 4-1/2 year intraday high of 1,193.35 points, was flat at 1,188.61 points in afternoon trade.
The so-called "peripheral" southern European stock markets of Spain and Italy, which have been hit hard by the eurozone's debt crisis and an election stalemate in Rome, underperformed with Spain's IBEX down 0.4pc while Italy's FTSE MIB fell 0.2pc.
Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths said some traders were selling to book profits on the earlier rally on expectations that U.S non-farm payroll data on Friday may not beat market forecasts.
"I think it's just a bit of profit-taking. I'd expect the market to ease up towards the end of the week," he said.
City Index strategist Joshua Raymond said equity markets could be volatile ahead of the publication of such data, which might provide clues on whether central banks will continue with stimulus measures to support the global economy.
"It's fairly choppy... there's a lot of data out over the next couple of days that's going to be very important for the near-term path of the market, (and) whether stimulus buttons still remain on, or whether there's more of a question mark on that," said Raymond.