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Euro woes may affect Google ad sales: analyst

(Reuters) - Benchmark Co analysts downgraded Google Inc to "hold" from "buy," citing a decline in advertising revenue from Europe and an uncertain outlook for the first half of this year.

"Our checks indicate the year is starting slowly with advertisers taking a wait-and-see approach," analyst Clayton Moran wrote in a note to clients.

Google has more than 90 percent share of the online advertising market in Europe, which accounts for about 35 percent to 40 percent of its revenue, Moran said.

Moran is a three-star rated analyst for the accuracy of his earnings estimates on Google, and ranks 16th out of 41 analysts covering the stock, according to Thomson Reuters' Starmine data.

The brokerage has a $700 price target on the stock, which has risen 40 percent since October when the company reported better-than-expected profits driven by its mobile business.

The shares were trading down less than a percent before the bell on Thursday morning. They closed at $668.28 on Wednesday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Meenakshi Iyer in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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