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Robust earnings keep European shares near 5-year highs

Sudip Kar-Gupta
Monday, 28 Oct 2013 | 7:34 AM ET

* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, steadying near 5-year highs

* DAX briefly touches new record high before turning flat

* Assa Abloy and Aggreko rise after earnings updates

* Trim back equities in short-term: JP Morgan Cazenove

LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Pan-European stocks steadied near 5-year highs on Monday, propped up by robust corporate earnings, but with some strategists taking profits from the recent rally.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat at 1,284.40 points in mid-session trade, hovering just below a 5-year high of 1,291.93 points reached last week.

Germany's DAX index rose by as much as 0.4 percent to touch a new record high of 9,017.95 points before settling back to trade flat at 8,988.85 points.

Lock maker Assa Abloy and power company Aggreko topped the FTSEurofirst 300's leaderboard, after Assa Abloy posted third quarter earnings ahead of market forecasts, while Aggreko reported a rise in underlying revenues and trading margins.

The FTSEurofirst 300 is up 13 percent since the start of 2013 while the DAX has risen by 18 percent.

JP Morgan Cazenove advised investors to trim back equity holdings in the near-term to cash in on the rally so far, as a purely short-term tactical trade.

JN Financial trader Ed Smyth also said he would look to sell the DAX if it rose to the 9,020-9,120 point level for a profit, but both Smyth and JP Morgan Cazenove remained bullish on European equities on a longer-term, fundamental basis.

According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, 53 percent of the companies on the broader pan-European STOXX 600 index have beaten or met market expectations with their third quarter earnings updates so far.

Tim Gregory, head of global equities at Psigma Investment Management, said robust results from leading European companies would continue to support European equity markets.

Schroders' European equities fund manager Martin Skanberg also felt European stock markets could rise further, buoyed by signs of an economic recovery in Europe.

"We have seen some strong performance from European equities over the summer, but would argue there is more to come," said Skanberg.