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Euro shares surge pauses amid fears of US pullback on stimulus

European shares fell from multi-year highs this morning, with the UK market having hit a near 13-year peak this week, as concerns over a possible end to central bank stimulus measures halted the equity rally.

Still, most traders and investors felt any pull-back on European equity markets would be relatively brief before stock markets resume their rise towards the end of the year.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has hit five-year highs this month, slipped 0.1pc to 1,250.83 points while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index declined 0.2pc to 2,819.99 points.

Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova was among the worst-performing stocks on the FTSEurofirst 300, falling 4.3pc after posting lower profits.

Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths said some investors were selling to book profits on this year's rally before US Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke gives testimony tomorrow.

Some traders have voiced concerns that Bernanke may signal an end to a programme of quantitative easing (QE) which has spurred a rally on global equities this year, with the FTSEurofirst 300 up around 10pc since the start of 2013.

"With the economic numbers being pretty good in the States, there may be an easing back of QE sooner rather than later," Griffiths said.

Rate cuts and liquidity injections by central banks have hit returns on bonds and driven investors to the better returns on offer on equities, in turn boosting world stock markets.

Germany's DAX, which was down 0.2pc at 8,444.27 points, has hit record highs this month while Britain's FTSE 100 was close to its highest level since late 2000, around the time of the Internet stock market bubble.

Griffiths felt any signs of an end to the Fed's stimulus programme could push the DAX back down to 8,000.

Darren Easton, director of trading at Logic Investments, also felt any such signs from the Fed could herald a drop of 2-3pc on world stock markets. But Easton said he was still buying on intraday dips on expectations stock markets will gradually rise over the course of 2013.

"We don't want to bet against the long-term trend, which is aggressively up," he said.

Nomura quantitative strategists are also bullish overall.

"We remain fundamentally bullish on the market and expect European indices to end the year at higher levels, but we think that the path towards that target is unlikely to be a straight line," they wrote in a research note.

Online Editors