European shares end lower amid austerity protests

LONDON Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:48pm GMT

LONDON Nov 14 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday, led by Ryanair, as unrest in Europe over austerity measures raised fresh concerns over the economic outlook and overshadowed some upbeat company results.

The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed down 8.8 points, or 0.8 percent, at 1,090.34, paring gains on Tuesday which came after speculation Spain might be closer to asking for a bailout.

Spain's reluctance to ask for aid centres around the punishing austerity measures the embattled country would be forced to adopt to qualify for payments.

Olli Rehn, the EU's top economic official, said measures announced for 2014 by Spain on deficit reductions fall short of what is required, although it has taken effective action to address its budget deficits in 2012 and 2013.

"There are still some big macro headwinds out there," said David Hambidge, who leads the multi-asset team at Premier Asset Management, which has around 3 billion pounds of assets under management.

"We wouldn't chase the market higher from this level but should equities have a reasonable correction then we would be looking to add to our position," he said.

Strikes in Spain and Portugal on Wednesday in protest against spending cuts and tax hikes shut transport links across the Iberian peninsula.

The strikes, which closed airports, added further pressure to Irish budget airline Ryanair, which was also trading without its dividend rights. The stock led fallers, down 6.2 percent in volume nearly five times its 90-day daily average.

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