Europe stocks end lower on renewed euro zone fears

PARIS, March 31 (Reuters) – European stocks ended lower on
Thursday, halting an almost uninterrupted two-week recovery
rally as rekindled fears over Portugal’s debt crisis prompted
investors to book profits on the last session of the quarter.

Peripheral benchmark stock indexes such as Spain’s IBEX 35
(.IBEX: Quote, Profile, Research), Portugal’s PSI 20 (.PSI20: Quote, Profile, Research) and Italy’s FTSE MIB
(.FTMIB: Quote, Profile, Research) lost 1.2-1.5 percent, but managed to outperform
Europe’s broad indexes on the quarter.

The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top European shares
unofficially closed 0.5 percent lower at 1.128.89 points on
Thursday, ending the roller-coaster quarter with a gain of 0.6
percent.

“The risks are still simmering, so people are booking
profits on some of the stocks that have performed the most this
quarter,” said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales
trading at Global Equities.

Some of the blue chips’ top performers over the past three
months featured among the biggest losers on Thursday, with
Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) down 3.6 percent and Societe Generale
(SOGN.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) down 3.4 percent. The two French banks ended the
quarter up 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

“Volumes have been thin in this two-week recovery rally.
We’ll need more inflows in the next quarter to confirm the
market is really back in its uptrend channel. The ECB’s expected
tightening and the new hawkish tone from the Fed should help as
it will drive more investments out of money markets and into
equities,” Thebault said.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson)

Europe stocks end lower on renewed euro zone fears