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Macro economic concerns weigh on European shares
* FTSEurofirst down 0.4 percent
* Basic resources fall after China data
* Skanska down after Q1 profit fall
* Results boost Aegon and Danske Bank
By David Brett
LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) - European shares were down around midday in choppy trade on Thursday, as political concerns in Europe and global growth worries weighed on investor sentiment with basic resource stocks under pressure after weak trade data overnight from China.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 3.96 points, or 0.4 percent at 1,010.50 by 1032 GMT, having closed at its lowest level since Jan. 9 on Wednesday as growing uncertainty in Greece and concerns over the Spanish financial system hit markets.
The FTSEurofirst was holding around the 1,011 level - the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement of the rally that the European Central Bank launched in mid-December with its flood of cheap loans - and its 200-day moving average.
Investors are now looking towards governments and central banks for their next move as the stimulus effects of the coordinated central bank action in late 2011 wears off.
Stewart Richardson, chief investment officer at RMG Wealth Management, said markets are in purgatory without more stimulus.
"At the moment we do not think any more stimulus is coming our way in the near term. We need to focus on the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to realise the potential firepower that will help global markets," he said.
Richardson said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke watches the Russell 200 index and ECB Governor Mario Draghi looks at the MSCI World index, and a drop of a further 10 percent on both could trigger them into new stimulus action.
U.S. futures signalled a weaker start for Wall Street ahead of a speech by Bernanke due around 1330 GMT.
The main focus remains on Europe where Greece and Spain are struggling to contain their debt crises, which is infecting confidence among investors and means companies are unwilling to unleash bulging cash piles to boost growth in an uncertain economic environment.
Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos will make a last-ditch attempt to form a government on Thursday, after European governments kept the country solvent for the moment by agreeing to make a 4.2 billion euros ($5.4 billion) payment from the region's bailout fund to enable Athens to meet short-term bond redemptions.
Fellow struggler Spain was forced to step in to take over Bankia, Spain's fourth biggest lender, in an attempt to dispel concerns over its ability to clean up the financial sector four years after a property market crash.
Europe's struggles continue to impact further afield where China, the world's largest consumer of natural resources, reported its headline growth in imports unexpectedly stalled in April and exports were weaker than expected, raising doubts about the strength of the rebound in the world's second-biggest economy.
Basic resource stocks fell as the data clouded the demand outlook for miners and weighed on base metal prices, which would squeeze margins further.
Eurasian Natural Resources, however, rose 1.1 percent despite warning that revenue decreased "significantly" in the first quarter, hit by a drop in prices for the commodities it sells, especially iron ore, and weaker production volumes. Its shares hit a three-year low in the previous session and Thursday's move reflected investor willingness to take a punt on beaten down stocks.
A London-based fund manager was quick to remind investors that growth was still high enough in Asia to support earnings in the longer term, saying regional growth is much stronger than 10 years ago and economies are much bigger now.
Earnings dominated the top movers on the FTSEurofirst, with Skanska, the Nordic region's biggest builder, down 7 percent after it posted a surprise fall in first-quarter pretax profit.
UK-listed telecoms company BT and credit information firm Experian also fell after respective updates.
Of the companies that have reported so far this quarter, 60 percent of companies have either met or beaten expectations, compared with 71 percent in the United States, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.
On the upside, Dutch life insurer Aegon, Denmark's Danske Bank, Spanish oil major Repsol, the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal and Europe's largest computer consultancy, Capgemini were all among the top gainers after reporting results.
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