* FTSEurofirst 300 off 0.4 percent
* Miners weaken on China demand concerns
* Carrefour, Vivendi advance after results
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - European shares drifted lower on
Thursday, with trading volume sliding as investors stuck to the
sidelines on uncertainty about how central banks will move and
about the outlook for the global economy.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.4 percent at
1,081.69 by 1112 GMT, having fallen 0.2 percent on Wednesday.
Trading volume stood at just 22 percent of the 90-day daily
Investors will closely watch U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben Bernanke and other central bankers at their annual Jackson
Hole, Wyoming, get-together at the end of the week where they
often hint at forthcoming monetary policy moves.
Traders are also watching developments ahead of a European
Central Bank meeting on Sept. 6 which could lead to the relaunch
of the ECB's government bond buying programme to help tackle the
region's economic crisis, and may even yield another rate cut.
Stock markets rallied sharply after ECB head Mario Draghi
promised on July 26 to do "whatever it takes" to protect the
euro from the region's debt problems. Equities
have however failed to move much higher since mid-August.
Miners were among the biggest drags on the index,
off 1.8 percent on persistent concerns over the outlook for
economic growth in top metals consumer China and a further drop
in the price of steelmaking ingredient iron ore, which
languished at near three-year lows.
China is prepared to buy more EU government bonds amid a
worsening European debt crisis that is dragging on the world
economy, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Thursday.
"Chinese data is starting to really deteriorate. Given that
China is of such importance to European export markets, I think
that the Draghi effect has made people too complacent," said Lex
van Dam, hedge fund manager at Hampstead Capital, which manages
around $500 million of assets.
Underlining the slowdown in the euro zone economy, the
bloc's economic sentiment deteriorated much more than expected
in August, while inflation expectations among consumers jumped,
data from the European Commission showed.
Mirroring the split in fortunes of companies to have
reported so far, earnings news sent share prices in divergent
directions on Thursday.
Carrefour was the standout gainer across Europe,
up 9.5 percent, after the global retailer posted
The share price rise saw the stock burst above the 200-day
moving average it had been testing for two weeks. Trading volume
in Carrefour was robust, at one and a half times its 90-day
Vivendi also notched up good gains, ahead 2.8
percent, reversing the previous session's sharp drop, after the
telecom and media group posted results seen as roughly in line
with expectations and announced a plan to reduce its telecom
unit's operating costs.
Traded volume in Vivendi stood at around half its 90-day
WPP, meanwhile, sank 2.7 percent, one of the biggest
laggards, as the world's largest advertising group nudged down
its full-year outlook after cautious customers demanded better
value for money in the second quarter of the year.
Trading volume in WPP was heavy at three times its 90-day
Peer Publicis Groupe was dragged down in its wake,
shedding 2.4 percent.
Of the roughly 96 percent of major European companies to
have reported this results season, around half have missed
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.
Some investors are of the opinion that attractive valuations
will underpin European equities.
"European equities are looking quite cheap... relative to
U.S. businessess. Cheap by 10-20 percent, at relatively low
valuations for a lot of the bigger European companies with
global businesses," Colin McLean, managing director Scottish
Value Management in Edinburgh, said.
"The market probably needs to see the Greek issues pushed a
couple of years on... and then if it saw some money printing in
Europe, it would probably re-rate European equities quite
The current price earnings ratio for the FTSEurofirst 300
stands at 12.85 times, against the S&P 500 at 15.05