European stocks flat as Holcim offsets retailers

* FTSEurofirst 300 index flat

* Holcim’s poor results, outlook hit construction stocks

* British retail sales data help lift sector

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU]

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Aug 19 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares were flat in
morning trade on Thursday with Holcim’s (HOLN.VX: ) poor earnings
and cautious guidance reviving worries over the outlook for
company profits, eclipsing strong British retail sales.
Holcim tumbled 4.4 percent after the world’s second biggest
cement maker’s first-half earnings missed forecasts and it said
government austerity programmes would limit infrastructure
spending.

Rivals HeidelbergCement (HEIG.DE: ) dropped 1.5 percent and
Lafarge (LAFG.PA: ) dipped 1.6 percent.

At 0906 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of leading
European shares was flat at 1,052.58 points in a choppy session.

The Euro STOXX 50 (.STOXX50E: ), the euro zone’s blue chip
index, was down 0.2 percent at 2,722.23 points, after running
into strong resistance around 2,737.62 — the 50 percent
retracement of its fall to a May low from an April high.

On the downside, the Euro STOXX 50’s next big support level
is 2,699.41 points, its 50-day moving average.

Alexandre Le Drogoff, technical analyst at Aurel BGC in
Paris, said the bias for the index remained negative. “Looking
at the candlesticks on the chart, we can see a Doji on
yesterday’s session, signalling a lack of will to extend
Tuesday’s rally.”

Investors got relief from economic data after news British
retail sales volumes rose faster than forecast last month, with
almost all non-food sectors showing strong growth.
[ID:nAHLIJE65T]

Sainsbury (SBRY.L: ) was up 0.5 percent and Kingfisher (KGF.L: )
up 0.6 percent.

Investors also awaited U.S. data, including weekly jobless
claims and leading indicators for July.

Nokia (NOK1V.HE: ) shares gained 2.5 percent after a Finnish
newspaper report that the company could be cheap enough to
become an acquisition target, and on expectations of an
improving offering of smartphones.

Around Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index (.FTSE: ) was down 0.3
percent, Germany’s DAX index (.GDAXI: ) down 0.2 percent, and
France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) down 0.3 percent.

The three benchmark indices have been moving sideways over
the past few weeks while volumes have dropped.

“Investors continue to remain cautious with respect to risk,
with gold continuing to rise against the U.S. dollar to six-week
highs, as well as pushing higher against the single currency,
while stock markets continue to trade listlessly on low volume
in a fairly broad range,” Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC
Markets, said in a note.
(Editing by Dan Lalor)

European stocks flat as Holcim offsets retailers