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Spain outperforms weaker European stock markets

Source: Reuters - Thu 21st Nov 2013
Spain outperforms weaker European stock markets

European shares edged lower on Thursday as worries resurfaced over an eventual scaling back of U.S. economic stimulus measures, but the Spanish and Italian markets outperformed.

Despite the pullback, many investors and traders were confident the broader equity market rally would continue into 2014, with Goldman Sachs forecasting more gains for the European and UK stock markets next year.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which hit a 5-year high of 1,316.42 points earlier this month, dipped 0.1% to 1,295.61 points.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also slipped 0.1% to 3,044.34 points and the pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.2% to 322.42 points.

Traders said the decline was driven mainly by fresh signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it may start scaling back monetary stimulus measures in the next few months.

However, Milan's FTSE MIB equity index withstood the broader fall to close 0.6% higher, while Spain's IBEX also advanced by 0.4%.

The Madrid stock market was buoyed by strong demand at a Spanish bond sale on Thursday, while Italy's plans to raise up to €12 Bln from privatisations lifted the Milan exchange.

"Madrid is standing quite strong - this is due to the great result of their debt auction. This is good news considering how deep in trouble the country was," said Varengold Bank sales trader Anita Paluch.

Spain and Italy are slowly recovering from the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis, which hit their economies hard, and this has reinforced expectations among investors for a broader European economic recovery extending into 2014.

The FTSE MIB is up by around 16% since the start of 2013 while the IBEX is up by 17%, with both performing broadly in line with a 15% rally in the STOXX 600 index.

Goldman Sachs expected the STOXX 600 to continue to advance and end 2014 at the 360-point level, as European companies start to benefit from the broader economic recovery.

"After three years of virtual stagnation, we expect European profits to grow 14% in 2014, driven by an improvement in global growth and some rise in margins," said Goldman's chief global equity strategist Peter Oppenheimer.