Expectations that central banks could provide further support to boost ailing economies were seen likely to stem any weakness.
European shares weakened on Wednesday. Photo: EFE
European shares weakened on Wednesday, retreating from more than four-month highs hit in the previous session, although expectations that central banks could provide further support to boost ailing economies were seen likely to stem any weakness.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was off 0.2 percent at 1,091.99 by 0814 GMT, having closed up 0.8 percent at 1,094.19 points on Tuesday, its highest closing level since March 19.
European stocks have soared since ECB President Mario Draghi said two weeks ago that the central bank was "ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro," sparking expectations of bold measures to help lower the borrowing costs of debt-laden Spain and Italy.
Since Draghi's comments, the FTSE 100 has gained 6.2 percent, the DAX has surged 8.8 percent and the CAC has soared 12 percent.
On Tuesday, Boston Fed Bank President Eric Rosengren said the central bank should launch another bond-buying programme of whatever size and duration is necessary to get the economy back on its feet.
Traders were awaiting the Bank of England's inflation report, due at 0930 GMT, with the BoE likely to slash its growth and inflation forecasts for 2012 and beyond, fuelling expectations of yet more money-printing later this year.
Standard Chartered clawed back some of its losses, up 6.1 percent to top the FTSEurofirst 300 leader board, having dived 16.4 percent on Tuesday in hefty volume after New York's top bank regulator accused the UK bank of hiding $250 billion in transactions tied to Iran, in violation of US law.