London: European shares edged lower on Wednesday, having hit a 27-month high in the previous session, with miners among the fallers as metals prices came off recent peaks.
But ARM Holdings rose 9% on media reports that Microsoft is working on a new version of its core Windows operating system for devices such as tablets to run on processors designed by the British software company.
At 0944 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1% at 1,144.98 points, after rising 1.1% in the previous session to its highest close since September 2008.
Trading was set to remain thin, however, ahead of the Christmas holidays.
“Investors will be happy to see the market close off the year with a decent gain,” said Richard Jeffrey chief investment officer at Cazenove Capital Management. “There’s a lot of macro information today that may influence people’s thinking on 2011.”
Miners were lower as metals and other prices slipped back from recent highs. Kazakhmys, Lonmin, Vedanta and Xstrata fell between 0.8 and 1.3%.
Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat; Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC40 both fell 0.1%.
“Technically, the indexes have been looking good, breaking new ground,” said Colin McLean, managing director at SVM Asset Management in Edinburgh. “But volumes are low. And the euro zone debt issues will be a focus again in the new year.”
BskyB gained 2.1%, and touched the highest since March 2004, as the prospects improve of regulatory approval for News International’s bid to buy the pay-TV operator.
Hermes rose 4.2% after LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, raised its stake in the handbag maker to above 20%.
German sports goods producer Adidas fell 2%, after peer Nike posted future orders data that missed many analysts’ expectations.
In macroeconomics, Britain’s economy grew less quickly than previously thought in the third quarter, and growth in the second quarter was also revised down, official data showed on Wednesday.
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee retained its three-way split at December’s policy meeting, but a growing number of policymakers are worried about rising medium-term inflation risks, central bank minutes showed on Wednesday.
“As we move through 2011, investors are going to have to contemplate the possibility that interest rates will rise,” Jeffrey said.
Later, investors’ attention will turn to US economic data, such as home sales and GDP growth.