* RWE and E.ON both surge by more than 10 pct
* German utilities pass “stress test” on nuclear plan
* FTSEurofirst 300 and Euro STOXX down 0.2 pct
* Rolls Royce, Safran hit by reports of probe into sector
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - European shares nudged lower on Monday but remained close to one-month highs reached after a rally last week, with German utilities soaring on easing concerns over nuclear costs.
E.ON and RWE both rose more than 10 percent in their biggest one-day bounce in seven years after Berlin concluded the companies had set aside enough money to decommission their nuclear plants.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.23 percent and the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.23 percent.
Traders said that it was no surprise some investors were taking profits following last week’s gains, while Japanese markets were closed for a holiday and the United States was celebrating Columbus Day.
“The market is consolidating after last week’s rally also because of the holidays in the U.S. and Japan,” ActivTrades chief market analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said.
He said investors would be focusing on Chinese trade balance data, but most of all on U.S. economic statistics later this week for more indications as to when the Federal Reserve will increase rates, the real focus for markets in recent weeks.
Rolls-Royce and Safran both dropped more than 4 percent, with traders citing a negative impact on those shares from media reports over the weekend of a European regulatory investigation into the airline maintenance market.
Biotechnology group Novozymes fell 3.8 percent after Goldman Sachs downgraded its shares to “sell” from “buy”.
Fiat rose 1.6 percent after the carmaker disclosed pricing for the initial public offering of Ferrari that could value its luxury sport car unit at close to $10 billion.
The strong gains in utilities E.ON and RWE helped the German blue-chip index DAX outperform Europe. The index, which remains some 20 percent below a record high reached in April, was up 0.24 percent.
Hampstead Capital hedge fund manager Lex Van Dam said the DAX now looked in better shape. “Finally some good news out of Germany, with the utilities RWE and E.ON leading the way. I am quite constructive on the market,” he said.
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Mark Heinrich)