European stocks declined, after a seventh weekly gain pushed equities near an all-time high.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.7 percent to 401.24 at the close of trading, paring earlier losses of as much as 1 percent. The equity gauge ended Friday within 0.4 percent of its March 2000 record close, having surpassed the forecasts of 12 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg in January. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index, which climbed above 7,000 for the first time last week, added 0.2 percent today.

The Stoxx 600 exceeded its 2007 peak last week on speculation the Federal Reserve won’t rush to raise rates. It has rallied 17 percent this year amid optimism that stimulus from the European Central Bank will revive the region’s economy, while a weakening euro will boost profits. The rally propelled stocks on the gauge this month to the highest price relative to estimated earnings in at least a decade.

Investors also watched ECB President Mario Draghi’s address to the European Parliament. In an opening statement, he pushed aside concerns that the ECB’s quantitative-easing plan will be hampered by a shortage of bonds available to buy.

Source : Bloomberg