London - European shares retreated from three-week highs in early trading on Tuesday, with investors cautious ahead of economic data releases that could set the market's near-term direction.

The ZEW economic think tank's poll of German economic sentiment for February, due at 12:00 SA time, is seen steady at 61.7, while the forecast for current conditions is expected to rise to 44 from 41.2 in the previous month.

In the United Kingdom, investors will scrutinise inflation numbers at 11:30 SA time for signals about the Bank of England's future interest rate moves.

Inflation, based on the consumer price index, is forecast to show a fall in January from a month earlier.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent at 1,334.72 points by 10:15 SA time after rising 0.4 percent to a three-week high in the previous session. - Reuters