European shares flat, hampered by French telecoms

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 22, 2013 16:40 hrs

LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - European shares ended flat on Tuesday, after a choppy session, as the prospect of price war in the French telecom sector balanced signs of economic improvement in Germany.

France Telecom, Vivendi and Bouygues shed between 4.6 percent and 3.9 percent after the head of Vivendi's SFR mobile operator said it was cutting prices by as much as 25 percent.

Some support came from a better-than-expected reading of German ZEW investor sentiment, up sharply for a second consecutive month in January in a sign the euro zone crisis is no longer hitting Europe's largest economy as hard as late 2012.

The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally ended at 1,166.40, having erased earlier losses after a technical sell-off that started on Germany's blue-chip DAX index.

The flat close left the FTSEurofirst 300 just a touch below a near two-year high of 1,170.29 hit on Jan. 10, after a robust start to 2013, which has seen the index climb 2.8 percent.

"(ZEW) helped markets move forward a little bit but I still think a lot of indices are in wait-and-see mode where markets are more or less digesting the big gains," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.

"Also markets are waiting a bit for earnings out of the United States."

Tech companies Google Inc, International Business Machines and Texas Instruments are set to report after Wall Street's close, ahead of Apple Inc's earnings release on Wednesday.

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