European shares dip but hold near highs after Ifo

By Reuters

Mar 25, 2015 08:18 AM EDT

European shares dipped on Wednesday but held near multi-year highs and the euro rose against the dollar after a survey showed the German business climate improving.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 share index fell 0.2 percent to 1601.50 points, still close to last week's 7 1/2-year high. German business morale, as measured by the Ifo index, rose for the fifth successive month to its highest since July 2014.

"The macro newsflow in Europe is quite positive, but after such a rally the market needs to catch its breath. At this point a pause is needed, while the medium-term trend remains very positive," IG France chief market analyst Alexandre Baradez said.

French luxury goods maker Hermes (HRMS.PA) was among the biggest losers, down 1.7 percent, after it reported a 7 percent rise in full-year operating profit but said foreign exchange rates cut its margin.

Earlier, Asian shares stalled. MSCI's main gauge of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan.MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.1 percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei index .N225 rose 0.2 percent to 19,746.20 points, just below a 15-year high closing level of 19,754.36 hit on Monday.

Chinese stocks fell, breaking an 11-day winning streak as banks dragged major indexes lower. The CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 0.8 percent.

The euro EUR= rose 0.2 percent to $1.0945, heading back towards Tuesday's peak of $1.1029 reached on upbeat euro zone data.

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of its peers, slipped 0.2 percent to 97.041 but stayed above Tuesday's two-week low of 96.378.

The index has fallen about 4 percent from a near 12-year high hit in mid March since the Federal Reserve took a dovish tone on when it might raise interest rates, prompting many analysts to push back expectations of the first Fed hike since 2006 to September from June. The yen was steady at 119.64 to the dollar JPY=.

In fixed income markets, German 10-year government bond yields DE10YT=TWEB fell 2.3 basis points to 0.215 percent.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 held steady at $55.14 a barrel, having fallen earlier on mounting evidence that China's strategic oil reserves may be nearly full and with U.S. investors also ballooning.


China has been taking advantage of cheap oil to build up its reserves, but a senior Chinese oil trading executive said on Wednesday existing capacity was reaching its limits.

"Although the market should already have expected that the demand from China's (reserves) would not last forever, it is hard to predict when this time would come. So now that it has happened, the markets are just factoring this in," said Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.

Gold slipped but kept close to a 2 1/2-week high on the growing expectation the Fed will not raise rates until September. Spot gold XAU= was last at $1,192.30 an ounce.

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