Miners drop on earnings fears to cap European shares

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 08:20 hrs

* FTSEurofirst up 1.02 points

* Miners hit by profit taking, poor Evraz results

* ENRC falls on boardroom unrest

* Investors turn to defensives

* Asset managers rally after strong Ashmore results

By Alistair Smout and David Brett

LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) - European shares paused on Thursday after their biggest daily rise in three months the previous session, with profit-taking in miners capping gains following record highs on the U.S. stock market.

Miners fell 1.1 percent having been up 3.6 percent on the week, with Evraz reigniting fears over earnings in the sector by sliding to a surprise loss in 2012.

The miners shed 12.7 percent to become the biggest fallers on the STOXX Europe 600

Sixty-five percent of European miners have so far missed earnings expectations for the full year, compared with a 59 percent beat for the broader index.

A year-on-year growth contraction of 38.7 percent has prompted analysts to cut forecasts for the coming year by an average of 2.6 percent over the last 30 days, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine Data.

Volatile ENRC lost 5.3 percent after a good run, with Exane BNP Paribas cutting its price target on the stock. It was also hit by a report in the Financial Times that a board member was threatening to resign.

Defensive stocks, however, helped the FTSEurofirst 300 edge up by 1.19 points to 1,187.34 at 0751 GMT, near one-week highs.

European stocks have recouped all of their losses from last week after a disappointing batch of U.S. data sparked a sell-off on Friday.

However, investors were split on whether a new record high on a leading U.S. equity index overnight was a fresh reason to buy up stocks or a signal that the global market rally had gone too far.

"Investors looking on at the U.S. may be further encouraged to put money to work in European shares based on the ongoing strength seen," Joe Neighbour, senior broker at Central Markets, said.

"We would urge caution on investing at all-time highs as the risk/reward on the trade favours the downside from here," he said.

Investors sought refuge in defensive stocks that are resilient to economic uncertainty, with luxury and retail among the top sectoral gainers.

Financial services rose 1 percent to top the sectoral risers list after Ashmore said it attracted over $7 billion of net new money in the first quarter. The asset manager rose 11.7 percent, with peer Man Group up 6.4 percent.

Despite underlying appetite for equities globally, supported by continued central bank stimulus, European stocks struggled to return to all time highs, hamstrung by weak growth and political turmoil.

"Europe is still in the doldrums and risks having trouble reaching minimum targets of 3,000 points for the Eurostoxx 50 , and 4,000 for the CAC 40," Societe Generale says in a note. The EuroSTOXX 50 is currently at 2,654, with the CAC back at 3,746.

(Editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)

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