European stocks will likely end the fourth-quarter flat to negative as the "status quo" between the central bank stimulus support and a weak growth outlook begins to slip, Standard & Poor's Capital IQ analysts write in a fourth-quarter outlook.
"Given that the previous quarter witnessed a significant re-rating of equities on the impulse of central bank puts, our belief is that 'after the liquidity must come growth' and we would need to see greater conviction in earnings estimates for further price appreciation," they add.
Third-quarter earnings season, due to start in the coming fortnight, is set to be "uncomfortable", the analysts write, citing weaker factory new orders data in the region and rising inventory levels -- both good indicators of forward demand.
S&P Capital IQ's expectations for profits next year are more positive, although both their 2012 and 2013 estimates for earnings per share growth lag consensus, at minus 5 percent and plus 5 percent, respectively, against consensus of minus 2.7 percent and plus 12.8 percent, they write.
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Keywords: MARKETS EUROPE STOCKSNEWS