Firmer healthcare stocks help European shares steady after slump
LONDON Jan 6 (Reuters) - European shares steadied on Tuesday after a slump in the previous session, buoyed by healthcare stocks, although traders said worries over Greece were still weighing on markets.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had fallen 2.3 percent on Monday, was flat while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index - which slumped 3.7 percent on Monday - edged up 0.2 percent.
A rise in healthcare stocks added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300, as Bavarian Nordic rose 3.4 percent after Johnson & Johnson started clinical trials of its experimental Ebola vaccine, which uses a booster from Bavarian Nordic, making it the third such shot to enter human testing.
However, British industrial equipment hiring company Ashtead fell 8 percent after shares in its U.S. rival United Rentals also slumped overnight following a broker downgrade on United Rentals.
Traders said European markets were unlikely to make much headway until the political situation in Greece became clearer.
Investors fear that a Jan. 25 election in Greece could vault the left-wing Syriza party into power, raising the risk of a sovereign default, while Greece remains under pressure from Germany - the euro zone's biggest economy - to abide by the terms of its international bailout package.
"I don't think they will push Greece out of the euro zone, but just the sheer mention of this being a possibility is making investors nervous," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Atul Prakash)
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