European shares slip from highs, BMW sags

Blaise Robinson
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 7:04 AM ET

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.6 pct

* Two in three companies missing revenue forecasts -StarMine

* Stocks still seen very attractive relative to bonds

PARIS, Nov 5 (Reuters) - European shares set new five-year highs on Tuesday before dipping after mixed results from blue chips, with uncertainty in the run-up to an ECB policy meeting also keeping investor enthusiasm in check. Shares in BMW dropped 3.2 percent in brisk volumes after the German carmaker said quarterly profit at its auto unit fell more than expected, hurt in part by price discounts in core European markets. Holcim, the world's largest cement maker by market value, fell 0.6 percent after warning that 2013 sales volumes would be lower than last year, blaming sluggish demand in some major emerging markets. Results were brighter at Beiersdorf, whose stock surged 5.4 percent. The maker of Nivea creams and lotions lifted its 2013 sales forecast and said it had gained market share from rivals in Europe. Half way into the European earnings season, 52 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have missed profit forecasts, and two thirds have missed revenue forecasts, according to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, a sharp contrast with the second-quarter result season during which only 42 percent of companies missed profit forecasts. At 1124 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent at 1,291.26 points, after rising as high as 1,297.29 in early trade, a level not seen since mid-2008. "We've just had a pretty nice rally in stocks, so tactically, it's tempting to book a bit of profit at this stage," said Koen Maes, global head of asset allocation at Dexia Asset Management, which has 73 billion euros ($98 billion) under management. "But with so much cash still on the sidelines and with equities looking very attractive relative to bonds, the medium-term trend for stocks is still bullish." The FTSEurofirst 300 has gained nearly 6 percent in the past four weeks, boosted in part by expectations that both euro zone and U.S. monetary policy will remain accommodative for some time. U.S. officials said on Monday that the Federal Reserve was in no rush to cut its programme of bond purchases, backing market expectations that the equity-friendly stimulus will not be trimmed until early next year. In Europe, recent tame inflation figures have sparked speculation about a possible rate cut by the European Central Bank when it meets on Thursday, though all but one of 23 euro money market traders polled by Reuters on Monday expect the ECB to leave borrowing costs unchanged at 0.5 percent.

"I don't think they will cut rates, because frankly it wouldn't change anything at this point in terms of impact on the economic recovery," Dexia AM's Maes said. Around Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.4 percent, and France's CAC 40 down 0.5 percent. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was down 0.6 percent, at 3,044.06 points. The index has been stuck for a week below a strong resistance level at 3,077.24, which represents a peak hit in early 2011 and above which it would hit five-year highs. Despite the day's losses, Aurel BGC chartist Gerard Sagnier said he remained positive. "The trend is quite bullish at the moment, there's just no sign of weakness. At this point, investors who missed the rally so far are forced to jump in. The upside potential for the next three to four months is around 6 to 7 percent for indexes."

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