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Weak earnings weigh on European shares

Sudip Kar-Gupta
Friday, 1 Nov 2013 | 4:59 AM ET

* FTSEurofirst 300 slips 0.1 pct, ESTOXX 50 down 0.2 pct

* Renault falls as Japan partner Nissan cuts outlook

* Aircraft parts supplier Meggitt slumps after cutting guidance

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - More signs of third quarter weakness at major European companies pegged back the region's stock markets on Friday, pushing indexes off multi-year highs. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.1 percent at 1,291.30 points in early session trade, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index declined 0.2 percent to 3,062.18 points. Germany's DAX, which hit a record high of 9,070.17 points earlier this week, retreated 0.1 percent to 9,022.64. The FTSEurofirst 300 index has risen 14 percent since the start of 2013 and around 4 percent in October, reaching a five-year high of 1,296.37 points on Oct. 30. Since then, some traders have chosen to cash in profits on growing evidence of a far from stellar third-quarter earnings season. On Friday, UK aircraft parts supplier Meggitt fell around 8 percent after cutting its revenue guidance, and French carmaker Renault also fell sharply after its Japanese partner Nissan cut its net profit outlook for the year.

"Q3 numbers have not been that good. Generally, the guidance is down from companies," said Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 53 percent of companies on the pan-European STOXX 600 index have missed market expectations and 47 percent met or beaten them. Campbell-Gray said he still expected European equity markets to rally towards the end of 2013 and Citigroup's European equity strategists also gave a positive outlook. They argued investors should look to buy up more banking stocks as the global economy slowly recovers from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, alongside "recovery" stocks that could get merger interest. "We have been and remain very bullish on equities and have progressively raised exposure to risk and recovery over the past 12-15 months," Citigroup wrote in a research note.

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