Europe shares dip on nagging Greece worries

Thu Nov 8, 2012 5:47pm GMT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 flat

* Brisk trading volumes for second day in a row

* Greek stocks hammered by worries over aid package

* Bullish triangle pattern intact on Euro STOXX 50 chart

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - European equities ended slightly down on Thursday following a roller-coaster session marked by brisk volume, with rekindled worries about Greece keeping investors on edge.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,097.71 points, unable to bounce back from Wednesday's sell-off.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said next week may still be too early to make a decision on granting further aid to Greece, reviving fears about the debt-stricken country.

Greek stocks tumbled, with Alpha Bank sinking 13 percent and National Bank of Greece down 11 percent.

Athens's ATG benchmark index dropped 3.8 percent, although it is still up 17 percent year-to-date, the second-biggest gain among euro zone indexes behind Germany's DAX - up 22 percent so far this year.

Thursday's big faller was Germany's Commerzbank, down 5.8 percent after it missed third-quarter profit forecasts and said it was unlikely to pay a dividend this year or next.

French peer Societe Generale featured among the session's biggest gainers, however, adding 1.7 percent after posting a rebound in trading revenue in the third quarter. Arch-rival BNP Paribas gained 1.3 percent.

"We're in consolidation mode, and the good news is that most of the gains made since the summer, especially in the banking sector, are holding on despite the absence of positive newsflow," said Francois Chevallier, strategist at Banque Leonardo in Paris.

"The absence of a big wave of profit taking shows that people are starting to think that the systemic crises are over. The U.S. housing market is recovering and Europe is now dealing with its debt problems."

The STOXX euro zone banking index has surged 45 percent since late July, when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to save the euro.

Around Europe, the UK's FTSE 100 index ended down 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX index down 0.4 percent, and France's CAC 40 down 0.1 percent.

Trading volumes - which have been anaemic over the past two weeks, before spiking in late trade on Wednesday - were strong again on Thursday, with volumes on the DAX and the CAC about 30-35 percent higher than the average daily volume of the past three months.

The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index ended flat, after swinging between a 1 percent gain and a 0.2 percent loss, signalling a lack of conviction among market players.

However, the chart for the blue-chip index shows a bullish symmetric triangle pattern shaping up since mid-September, with the index trading in a tightening range, and a break above the triangle could quickly send the index rallying to March levels.

The index tested the lower band of the triangle in late trading on Thursday, before bouncing back.

"I'm still buying on weakness. There are still concerns about this tail risk stemming from the euro zone crisis despite all the improvements on this front, so the 'repricing' is not over yet," a Paris-based trader said.

"Investors are too pessimistic, the fiscal cliff will be avoided. As long as 2,450 holds on the Euro STOXX 50, there is further upside."

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