June 18, 2013
European shares flirt with 2-yr highs in light trade
European shares rose today, climbing back towards near two-year highs, with investors buying into relatively 'undervalued' sectors such as utilities and steel as they bet Europe's economy will improve.
A sell-off in luxury stocks capped gains, however, sparked by comments from Swiss watch maker Richemont about weak sales growth in China. Its shares lost 5.6 percent, while Burberry dropped 1.4 percent and Louis Vuitton owner LVMH fell 1 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,166.53 points, just a few points shy of a near-two-year high of 1,170.29 hit on Jan. 10.
The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index added 0.6 percent to 2,726.63 points, moving back towards an 18-month high hit a week ago, while Britain's FTSE 100 index rose 0.4 percent and hit a 4-1/2 year high.
Trading volume was low in Europe as Wall Street was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Nikkei share average fell as investors pocketed profits as a precaution ahead of the outcome of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting, with expectations for aggressive easing already mostly priced into the market.
The Nikkei fell 0.9 percent to 10,820.59 by the midday break, moving further away from a 32-month high of 10,952.31 hit last Tuesday.