Europe Markets

European Shares Slip, Led by Utilities and Banks and Reuters
European Shares Close Down
European Shares Close Down

European shares nudged lower on Friday, held back by weak utilities and banks, though strategists reckoned that any dips in the equity markets should be seen as a buying opportunity.

The and the Banks index were both among the worst performing European sectors, off 0.6 percent.

Utilities were knocked by a 3.3 percent drop in Spanish power company Iberdrola, which traders attributed to signs that lender Bankia might be looking to sell its stake in the company.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 0.1 percent at 1,162.21, around levels seen at the start of January.

While markets have been in a consolidation mode over recent weeks, continued loose monetary policy from central banks was one good reason to keep faith with the asset class, some said.

"I still remain fairly positive that after this pause markets will move higher," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.

Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments, meanwhile, said: "I get the feeling that people are more looking to put money into the market than they are to take profits at this moment in time."

Standard Life Investments has around 163 billion pounds ($253.1 billion) of assets under management.

Edward Allen, a fund manager at Thurleigh Investment Managers, said that while he had recently added to positions on European shares, he preferred U.S. and Asian equities.

"We are more enthusiastic about American and Asian earnings and growth prospects," said Allen, whose firm manages around 270 million pounds' ($419.2 million) worth of assets.

European markets