Robust earnings keep European shares near 5-year highs

Reuters

* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, steadying near 5-year highs

* DAX briefly touches new record high before turning flat

* Assa Abloy and Aggreko rise after earnings updates

* Trim back equities in short-term: JP Morgan Cazenove

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Pan-European stocks steadied near5-year highs on Monday, propped up by robust corporate earnings,but with some strategists taking profits from the recent rally.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat at 1,284.40points in mid-session trade, hovering just below a 5-year highof 1,291.93 points reached last week.

Germany's DAX index rose by as much as 0.4 percentto touch a new record high of 9,017.95 points before settlingback to trade flat at 8,988.85 points.

Lock maker Assa Abloy and power company Aggreko topped the FTSEurofirst 300's leaderboard, after AssaAbloy posted third quarter earnings ahead of market forecasts,while Aggreko reported a rise in underlying revenues and tradingmargins.

The FTSEurofirst 300 is up 13 percent since the start of2013 while the DAX has risen by 18 percent.

JP Morgan Cazenove advised investors to trim back equityholdings in the near-term to cash in on the rally so far, as apurely short-term tactical trade.

JN Financial trader Ed Smyth also said he would look to sellthe DAX if it rose to the 9,020-9,120 point level for a profit,but both Smyth and JP Morgan Cazenove remained bullish onEuropean equities on a longer-term, fundamental basis.

According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, 53 percentof the companies on the broader pan-European STOXX 600 index have beaten or met market expectations with their thirdquarter earnings updates so far.

Tim Gregory, head of global equities at Psigma InvestmentManagement, said robust results from leading European companieswould continue to support European equity markets.

Schroders' European equities fund manager Martin Skanbergalso felt European stock markets could rise further, buoyed bysigns of an economic recovery in Europe.

"We have seen some strong performance from European equitiesover the summer, but would argue there is more to come," said Skanberg.

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