UK stocks : European shares slip as investors cash in on recent gains
The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.1 percent at 1,133.36, having dipped 0.4 percent in the previous session following a powerful three-week rally which propelled the index to 18-month highs.
Trading volumes were light, at 81.6 percent of their already weak 90-day daily average.
"I think for the markets to be down in Europe today is probably a fairly good guide that they're a little bit tired.
They've had a good run and they're just beginning to see a little bit of profit-taking from the high levels," said Andy Ash, head of sales at Monument Securities.
European markets started the day on a mildly positive tack
after manufacturing data from China added to evidence of a pick-up in the world's second-biggest economy.
But gains were erased as data showed the euro zone recession is deepening as the region's private sector contracted for the 11th straight month in December.
And a key issue continued to be worries over the U.S. budget impasse, and whether the United States would miss a year-end deadline to avert the "fiscal cliff" of some $600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts due to start in January.
A 6.2 percent rally off November lows for the index sends a strong signal that the market believes a deal will be struck.
But in seasonally thin trading volumes, any disappointment could trigger
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