* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, DAX edges lower
* German business sentiment drops for fifth straight month
* TNT slumps about 10 pct
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Weak German economic data and tepid corporate results from Dutch group TNT weighed on European shares on Wednesday, although supportive comments from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi limited losses.
German business sentiment dropped for a fifth straight month in September to its lowest level since April 2013, suggesting that expectations for a strong third-quarter rebound in Europe’s largest economy may need to be revisited.
The Ifo data added to a recent series of worse-than-expected economic indicators from euro zone countries, including France, which has put pressure on the ECB to launch new measures to buoy the bloc.
The Bank of Spain also said on Wednesday that Spanish private consumption growth and new job creation, fundamental aspects of the turnaround in the country’s crisis-torn economy, were likely to slow in the third quarter.
Speaking in a French radio interview, Draghi said the ECB would keep monetary policy loose for as long as it took to push up inflation in the bloc from near zero towards the level of just under 2 percent targeted by the bank.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat at 1,375.43 points, while Germany’s DAX also slipped by 0.1 percent to 9,588.92 points. Spain’s IBEX fell 0.6 percent.
“The whole bigger picture is that Europe is not looking that good,” Central Markets Investment Management head of trading, Darren Courtney-Cook, said. The DAX could fall to 9,000 points within the next few sessions, he said.
“I‘m strongly bearish coming into Q3. We’ve had a big push up, but people are now taking some chips off the table.”
Weak corporate updates also highlighted Europe’s economic woes.
Dutch logistics company TNT Express tumbled roughly 10 percent after warning that low growth in Europe would hit margins in the third quarter. It also announced it was setting aside 50 million euros to settle an anti-competitiveness investigation by French authorities.
Shares in Adecco fell 3 percent after the world’s largest temporary staffing company by sales, seen as a barometer of economic health, said sales in September were weaker than usual.
Traders said that air strikes by the United States and its Arab allies against militant groups in Syria were giving investors a further reason to trim equity positions and cash in.
The FTSEurofirst 300 hit a peak of 1,410.93 points this month - its highest since early 2008 - and the index remains up by about 4 percent since the start of 2014.
Saxo Bank trader Andrea Tueni expected investors to continue to consolidate those gains in the near term, while there were still signs of lukewarm economic data from Europe and China.
“Following the string of sluggish macro data from Europe and China that we had this week, the stock market consolidation is probably not over yet,” he said.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa and Blaise Robinson; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)