March 1, 2012 / 8:16 AM / 6 years ago

European shares ease further; growth in focus

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - European shares eased on Thursday, extending the recent period of consolidation as investors digest central bank cash injections and look for a catalyst for fresh gains at a time of, at best, mixed economic growth.

The European Central Bank’s broadly as-expected injection of 530 billion euros ($709 billion) in 3-year funds into the system on Wednesday is likely to be the last one.

The U.S. Federal Reserve also stayed silent on the possibility of more quantitative easing, suggesting that cheap central bank funds, which were key in boosting risk appetite and fuelling the equity market rally, had come to an end.

The threat of oil prices to growth in big importer Europe and an expected decision on who will be the winners and losers in Greece’s debt restructuring added to the cautious mood.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 fell 0.2 percent to 1,072.80 points, as investors locked in some of the gains which have been seen the index surged nearly 20 percent from late November.

“All the good news are known  This is a breather, let’s say some 3 percent on the downside in the short run and overall I think we are probably heading for more sideways movement over the next couple of weeks while equity markets struggle to reach new highs,” Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at Baader Bank, said.

“The cyclical space is prone to some setbacks probably more than the overall market.” ($1 = 0.7476 euros) (Reporting By Toni Vorobyova)

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