Zurich's results drag European shares off 5-yr high

Last Updated: Thu, May 16, 2013 07:10 hrs

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Weak earnings from the likes of Zurich Insurance Group helped drag European shares lower early on Thursday, although investors hunger for yield amid easy global monetary policy kept indexes at multi-year highs.

Zurich Insurance Group fell 1.2 percent after missing analyst expectations on Thursday with a 7 percent fall in first-quarter net profit.

Around 53 percent of European companies have so far missed earnings expectations for the most recent quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.

At 0706 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.2 percent at 1,243.63.

It set five-year highs in the previous session, when weak economic growth raised speculation that the European Central Bank would consider more measures to boost the sluggish economy.

"Markets have rallied hard recently and in a low interest rate environment and with quantitative easing measures in place, equities are still the place to be," Jawaid Afsar, sales trader at SecurEquity, said.

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