Weaker automobile stocks drag down European equities
* Rise in euro weighs on European stocks
* Mining shares outperform post-Fed
* Vienna Insurance, Immofinanz pull down Austrian market
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - European equities fell on Thursday, led down by exporters as the euro strengthened against the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve flagged fewer rate rises this year than expected.
However, miners surged as a weaker dollar made metals more affordable to consumers who buy them in non-dollar denominated currencies, boosting industrial metals such as copper and aluminium.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.1 percent, a day after the Fed held rates steady and indicated that while moderate U.S. economic growth and "strong job gains" would allow it to raise rates this year, policymakers now expect two quarter-point hikes by the year's end, half the number foreseen in December.
The STOXX Europe 600 Automobile and Parts index slipped 2.5 percent, dragged down by a 2.9 to 3.6 percent fall in BMW, Daimler, Renault and Peugeot.
"Stocks are moving lower on the back of the euro's advance. We're just consolidating some of the gains made over the last month," said Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu, pointing to the FTSEurofirst's gain of about 10 percent over the last month. Continuación...