European shares pare gains, peripherals underperform

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 06, 2013 15:50 hrs

LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - European shares pared gains on Wednesday, having earlier risen to fresh peaks, with some traders looking to book profits on expectations that U.S. economic data later this week may fail to beat forecasts.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had earlier risen to a 4-1/2 year intraday high of 1,193.35 points, was flat at 1,188.61 points by 1534 GMT.

The so-called "peripheral" southern European stock markets of Spain and Italy, which have been hit hard by the euro zone's debt crisis and an election stalemate in Rome, underperformed with Spain's IBEX down 0.4 percent while Italy's FTSE MIB fell 0.2 percent.

Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths said some traders were selling to book profits on the earlier rally on expectations that U.S non-farm payroll data on Friday may not beat market forecasts.

"I think it's just a bit of profit-taking. I'd expect the market to ease up towards the end of the week," he said.

City Index strategist Joshua Raymond said equity markets could be volatile ahead of the publication of such data, which might provide clues on whether central banks will continue with stimulus measures to support the global economy.

"It's fairly choppy... there's a lot of data out over the next couple of days that's going to be very important for the near-term path of the market, (and) whether stimulus buttons still remain on, or whether there's more of a question mark on that," said Raymond.

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