Commodity Stocks Pull European Shares Cautiously Lower

Europe's top shares ended the week in negative territory with weakness in commodity stocks outpacing gains in healthcare and consumer staples as growth pains smother appetite for risk.


The FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed down 4.09 points, or 0.4 percent to 1, 094.71, paring the previous session's gains and keeping within its tight 20-point range, which has been in place since Sept. 26.

Although the uptrend on the index that began in June has just about remained in tact, momentum in European shares has ground to a halt on global growth concerns after a strong summer rally fueled by central bank stimulus and cheap valuations.

Investors remained cautious after a week of gloomy economic forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and criticism that Europe's slow progress to solve the debt crisis is damaging global economic confidence .

On Thursday, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble rebuked IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde's statement that EU leaders should ease demands for tighter austerity in peripheral economies. Schauble said that Europe was not the only source of economic ills and called the IMF's words contradictory.

Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), told CNBC on Friday that Spain's reluctance to ask for a full bailout was justified.

Gurria's sentiments echoed those of Schaeuble, who said earlier this month that Spain was taking the right steps to overcome its fiscal problems and did not need to ask for a bailout.

The FTSEurofirst 300 has hovered in a band of about 50 points since early August after the European Central Bank announced it would "do what it takes" to save the euro, and hovered in an even tighter range since the U.S. unveiled QE3 in mid-September.

"There is some very large problems out there and although the recent central bank actions will support prices it does not really solve the underlying problems, and the debt and lack of growth will be with us for a really long time, " Peter Clark, chief strategist at Ingenious Asset Management, said.