European shares lose momentum on earnings, data

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 08:30 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent after 5 days of gains

* Recent run-up underpinned by monetary stimulus hopes

* PPR falls on earnings miss, weak China sales

* Ocado down as grocer dampens Morrison bid speculation

By David Brett

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - European shares opened lower on Friday, with disappointing earnings encouraging investors to book profits after five straight sessions of gains.

By 0726 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 6.40 points, or 0.5 percent, at 1,194.24. Having gained 4.6 percent over the previous week, the index is approaching the five-year high of 1,207 it hit in late March before selling off.

The recent gains have been driven by expectations that central banks will provide extra economic stimulus following weak data - particularly the European Central Bank when it meets next week.

"Investors are implicitly placing further faith in the ECB to deliver monetary support at next week's meeting," Ian Williams, strategist at Peel Hunt, said.

"There remains scope for disappointment on that front with at least a 25 basis point repo rate cut priced into risk assets."

Traders also said a cut to the ECB's refinancing rate is the least the market is expecting, though its impact on growth was likely to be limited.

Miners, which are particularly sensitive to changing economic conditions, led the index lower, shedding 1.7 percent.

Monetary stimulus erodes the yield value of fixed income assets, encouraging investments in a stock market in which a bubble could form if corporate earnings flag.

Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed 51 percent of the STOXX Europe 600 companies that have announced results so far have missed analysts' forecasts, lagging the United States, where only 27 percent companies have missed predictions.

French fashion firm and luxury goods group PPR missed first-quarter sales forecasts, hit by sluggish trading in Europe and slower growth in China. Its stock fell 5.3 percent.

Telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent shed 0.4 percent after posting a first-quarter loss, while Norwegian telecoms company Telenor fell 3 percent after lowering its revenue growth outlook after a slower quarter.

Norwegian insurer Gjensidige was the top faller in Europe, down 6.3 percent after taking a write down of 611 million Norwegian crowns ($103.92 million) on its investments in fellow insurer Storebrand.

The murky economic climate has also made for a difficult environment for mergers and acquisitions, which fell to 10-year lows in the first quarter of 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Online Grocer Ocado shed 5 percent after it poured cold water on market chatter that Britain's no.4 supermarket chain Wm Morrison would make a move to acquire the company.

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