European shares creep lower as Fed boost wears off

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 20, 2013 16:50 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 percent

* RWE weakens on dividend cut

* Adidas drops on profit warning

* Europe stocks see 3rd best weekly inflow on record -Lipper

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - European shares shed some of their gains from the U.S. Fed's decision to keep its stimulus programme in place but still ended up for their third straight week.

The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.3 percent at 1,262.61 points on Friday, having hit its highest level since mid-2008 in the previous session.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50, which on Thursday rose to a level not seen since mid-2011, slipped 0.3 percent, while Germany's DAX, off 0.2 percent, fell back from fresh all-time highs reached in the previous session.

Germany's No. 2 utility RWE AG was among the biggest losers across Europe, down 3.9 percent, after it slashed its dividend.

Adidas also came under pressure, dropping 3 percent after the German sports apparel maker warned on its 2013 profit outlook.

Equity markets took a leg down on Friday after St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Bloomberg television that a slowing of asset-purchases in October was possible depending on incoming data.

But analysts say that while a lack of clarity over when U.S. stimulus will be scaled back could unleash volatility into the markets, they remain bullish on European equities given improvements in the global growth picture.

"The end result of everything that (the Fed has) achieved is just to introduce an added source of uncertainty... We are scrambling to put months to the eventual introduction of tapering," Ian Richards, head of equity strategy at Exane BNP Paribas, said.

"I think yesterday's sugar rush was misplaced but ultimately I don't think this materially changes the investment case."

Goldman Sachs, in a note, says it believes that global growth will continue to accelerate through 2014, something it expects to translate into strong earnings growth for the market.

Germany's DAX looks attractive in this context, the investment bank says, noting that it tends to have higher operating leverage than the market and "should therefore gain more as global growth improves".

The DAX trades on a 12-month forward price/earnings ratio of 11.5 times, against the STOXX Europe 600 on a 12.9 times 12-month forward PE, Thomson Reuters Datastream shows.

Flows into European equities from U.S.-based funds accelerated in the week ended Sept. 18, according to Lipper data, with the region's stocks enjoying their third-biggest weekly net inflows since Lipper started to track the data in 1992.

"I wouldn't expect that the asset reallocation and the fund flows which have increasingly focused on Europe will retrace or diminish over the coming months," Richards said.

Some technical analysts anticipate some short-term consolidation on the Euro STOXX 50 as it bridges a gap made on Thursday, but from there expect the index to resume the rally which has seen it jump 7.5 percent from late August lows.

Barclays Capital technical analyst Lynnden Branigan reckons the index could drift towards 2,909, the bottom of the gap, in the coming days, but if it follows this with a higher close, there is "room for that trend to extend to the upside".

His immediate target is around 2,955, Thursday's high, and longer term at the May 2011 highs at about 3,000.

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