Europe Shares Close Lower on Earnings Fears

European shares dipped on Tuesday, tracking losses on Wall Street and with a key blue-chip index halted by a major resistance level, as investors braced for sluggish corporate results in the upcoming earnings season.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,160.45 points, drifting lower along with U.S. indexes.

The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index also fell 0.1 percent, to 2,691.73 points.

After a sharp rally started in mid-November, the benchmark index has been halted for a week by a key resistance level at 2,709 points, representing the starting point of a near 30 percent nosedive in mid-2011.

"Charts show some hesitation at major resistances, so it doesn't look too good on the short term," said Philippe de Vandiere, analyst at Altedia Investment Consulting.

"Earnings are not going to be good, with a lot of company results hit by restructuring. We already know it will be grim, so the focus will be on the outlook, basically any comment about visibility, which seems to be nil at the moment."

Despite the overall market's dip on Tuesday, euro zone banking stocks extended their recent rally sparked by news that global bank liquidity rules will be eased, with Banco Popolare up 3.6 percent and Societe Generale up 3.2 percent.