* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct
* Enel, Adecco, Inditex down after results
* Economic data eyed as catalyst for new peaks
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, March 13 European equities edged lower
on Wednesday, weighed down by a string of weak earnings reports
and with investors looking to economic data to put fresh impetus
into the rally in key stock indexes.
A subdued showing on Wall Street overnight - where the Dow
Jones Industrial Average slipped off a record high to
close flat after seven straight sessions of gains - and a
sell-off in Tokyo added to the cautious mood in Europe.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.3 percent at
1,190.89 points by 0823 GMT, edging further away from a
4-1/2 year peak of 1,197.73 points set at the end of last week.
"People are pausing for thought, waiting to see if the
growth story is there," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.
"It's a bit of a pause, hoping that the data is going to
continue showing some positive trends and, if it does, I think
we will continue back up."
Euro zone industrial production and U.S. retail sales
figures are due on Wednesday, alongside Italy's first sale of
long-term debt since Fitch cut its sovereign credit rating.
Investors are expected to demand higher yields from Rome,
which will offer up to 7.25 billion euros ($9.44 billion) in
four different bonds.
The Italian FTSE MIB index underperformed the broader
market, falling 0.5 percent in early trade, in part
reflecting concerns about the auction, but in reality more
weighed down by a steep sell-off in heavyweight Enel.
Shares in the utility dropped 4.8 percent, taking 76 points
off the FTSE MIB, after it posted a slump in 2012 profits and
said this year's earnings will be even weaker.
Staffing firm Adecco, British security group G4S
and Spanish-listed retailer Inditex also fell
after reporting results.
To date, around 40 percent of European companies have missed
expectations on full-year earnings, prompting analysts to
downgrade 2013 forecasts by an average of 1.0 percent in the
past 30 days, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
However, despite some steep sell-offs in individual shares,
the relatively soft results season has so far failed to unseat
the broad up-trend in the European equity market.
"One did not have a spectacular environment for earnings and
positive surprises (in 2012), so that doesn't really worry me
too much," said Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at
"Certainly we will still have a shaky environment in the
first quarter, but there is a decent chance that the environment
for earnings will improve in the second half and that is what
markets are trying to price in right now."