(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets) Updates after ECB decision)
* STOXX down 0.4 percent
* Shares in engineers GEA, Keller, Senior all slump
* But airline stocks rise as Lufthansa hikes guidance
* ECB keeps rates steady, not discussed ending or extending QE
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Oct 20 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) kept rates steady as expected, while a clutch of profit warnings from companies also weighed on the market.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down by 0.4 percent by 1306 GMT, having fallen as much as 0.8 percent as investors pondered remarks from ECB President Mario Draghi.
Draghi said the central bank had not discussed at its latest meeting either ending its asset-buying programme, also known as quantitative easing, or extending it.
“The ECB’s policy bias looks increasingly neutral,” said Michael Metcalfe, global head of macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, in a note.
“The countdown clock to the end of QE is now ticking just a little louder. An extension of the QE programme is still a possibility in December, but without a slowdown in growth or disappointing inflation data is by no means the given we assumed over the summer.”
Shares in German engineering company GEA tumbled 19 percent after the firm slashed its profit guidance for this year.
Shares in British engineering company Keller and engineering solutions company Senior also dived after both companies issued profit warnings.
Shares in Swiss food group Nestle dipped after Nestle cut its sales outlook.
However, Lufthansa jumped 7 percent after raising its profit guidance, lifting the shares of other airlines such as Air France KLM.
Most sectors were trading in negative territory. Automotives and banks were among the few gainers, with rises of 0.4 and 0.2 percent respectively. (Additional Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)