LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - European equities steadied on Tuesday, with investors unwilling to take large bets until there is clarity on the strength of the domestic economy and on how soon the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin to scale back stimulus.
The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.1 percent at 1,183.12 points, holding some 6 percent below the 5-year peaks set last month, before the possibility of fewer asset purchases from the Fed sent global equities into a tailspin.
Mixed European data offered only limited support, with the keenly watched ZEW index pointing to improved economic sentiment in Germany but worsening current conditions.
"For the euro zone equities, the key issue is that markets have risen since August of last year without support from rising company earnings. So we need to see some improvement from economic hard data in order to support the levels that we have reached," said Tammo Greetfeld, equity strategist at UniCredit.
"Against this backdrop, investors are now also confronted with the Fed tapering debate and this is an additional argument to expect equity markets to move sideways in the months to come."