European Shares Seek Direction Following 4-Day Rally

Reuters

European shares were flat on Friday morning after a four-day rally, as worries about Greece's debt crisis receded and investor attention turned to the strength of global economic recovery.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.02 percent at 1,110.74 at 0858 GMT, after rising 1.1 percent in the previous session to its highest close in four weeks, buoyed by the Greek parliament voting to adopt austerity measures and so averting bankruptcy.

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The index fell 1.2 percent over the second quarter, on worries about economic growth and the euro zone peripheral debt crisis.

"There is relief Greece has not gone bad. But there is also nervousness as we look to see whether the U.S. consumer is showing may more confidence or not," said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management.

"There is a recovery but it is lower and slower. Where does the growth come from? China is slowing. The market will go sideways. There is no impetus to push it up. Q2 corporate earnings should be good, but the outlook statements may not be so encouraging."

Banks were the biggest gainers, with the STOXX Europe 600 Banking Index up 0.7 percent. It is down 4 percent in 2011.

Across Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent, Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent and France's CAC40 was flat. The Thomson Reuters Peripheral Eurozone Countries Index was up 0.4 percent.

GROWTH WORRIES

The euro zone's manufacturing sector lost steam last month as growth in exports and domestic demand slowed to a trickle, while the region's weaker economies appear to be slipping back into recession, a survey showed.

Investor attentions will turn to PMI manufacturing and consumer confidence data in the United States.

It is "joyless times for many investors," said Jonathan Stubbs, strategist at Citigroup. "Flows to equities are discouraging. Equity hedge fund performance appears disappointing."

He cited low investor risk appetite and said the main economic risks were the sovereign crisis, U.S. slowdown and emerging market inflation.

It "means that the macro(economic) fog is very thick" and investor visibility and confidence was very low, he said, adding reduced economic uncertainty and collective action from equity hedge funds needing a performance boost could drive a sharp rally for European equities in the fourth quarter.

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