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European shares edge down; Repsol surges

Blaise Robinson
Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 | 10:55 AM ET

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.3 pct

* Repsol surges on hopes of YPF compensation deal

* Bet on indexes instead of shares - GE's Thebault

* ING IM Chief Investment Officer sees earnings rebound

PARIS, Nov 26 (Reuters) - European stocks dipped on Tuesday, as corporate profit warnings and lower-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence data kept benchmark indexes in ranges that were set earlier this month.

Shares in Spanish oil major Repsol bucked the trend, surging 4.6 percent as investors cheered the potential end to a year-long conflict with Argentina over compensation for the nationalisation of Repsol's stake in YPF.

At 1532 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.4 percent at 1,296.89 points.

The index - which increased its losses in late trade after data showed U.S. consumer confidence fell in November - has been moving sideways for nearly a month. Mixed macroeconomic data and a batch of lower-than-expected corporate earnings halted the rally that began late in June.

French spirits group Remy Cointreau became the latest European company to warn about its profit outlook on Tuesday. Its shares tumbled 8.7 percent to near a two-year low in massive volumes.

"It's another red flag about business in China, where Remy Cointreau has a strong exposure," said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities, in Paris. "All in all, investors are better off betting on indexes via derivatives or exchange-traded funds than betting on individual shares, to avoid risks of profit warnings."

With Europe's earnings season drawing to an end, results have been disappointing. About half of companies missed profit forecasts and nearly two-thirds have missed revenue forecasts, according to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Despite the grim results, ING IM Chief Investment Officer Hans Stoter sees scope for a 12 percent rebound in European earnings next week, betting on improved economic growth and better margins, boosted in part by lower commodity prices.

"The rise in earnings next year will be a nice tailwind for equities," he said. "And the argument for investing in equity is stronger than the one for investing in fixed income. The earning yield is still very attractive."

The earnings yield, used by asset managers, gives the percentage of each euro invested in a stock that was earned by the company, and is often measured against government bond yields.

European stocks currently trade at an earnings yield of 7.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream data. Ten-year Bund yields are only 1.7 percent, a gap of nearly 600 basis points. That signals stocks are still very cheap compared with government debt.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.04 percent and France's CAC 40 down 0.4 percent. Spain's IBEX rose 0.2 percent, boosted by Repsol's gains.

Shares in Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena dropped 6.2 percent after the lender approved a rights issue of up to 3 billion euros ($4 billion), more than its market value, to win EU approval for a state bailout.

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