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European shares hold steady as results season steams along

Stock MarketsJul 31, 2018 05:18AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO - The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Kit Rees

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares struggled for direction on Tuesday as stocks were pulled about by earnings updates from oil major BP , big lenders and a host of smaller UK companies.

The pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) was flat in percentage terms by 0848 GMT, as was Germany's DAX (GDAXI). Tech stocks (SX8P) were notable underperformers, down 0.4 percent and tracking overnight declines in U.S. and Asian peers.

Earnings were the big focus following results from big hitters BP (L:BP), Standard Chartered (L:STAN) and Credit Suisse (S:CSGN).

Credit Suisse (S:CSGN) rose 1.3 percent after the Swiss lender doubled its second-quarter profit but rival Standard Chartered (L:STAN) fell 3.2 percent after its half-year update.

Lufthansa (DE:LHAG) led travel and leisure (SXTP) stocks higher. Shares in the German airline jumped 6 percent after its second-quarter operating income beat estimates.

Shares in French media conglomerate Vivendi (PA:VIV) gained 5.2 percent after it reported results and said it was considering selling up to half of its UMG music division.

Barclay's European equity strategists said that so far European second quarter results are "reassuring" and that they expect European equities to fare better into the year-end.

"Europe still lacks self-help, it remains hostage to messy politics and is thus overly dependent on the fate of the global cycle. The region is unlikely to decouple, but it is making slow progress on structural reforms," strategists at Barclays (LON:BARC) said in a note.

"We believe the positives outweigh the negatives and are overweight equities for now. But risks are mainly tilted to the downside, which warrants a balanced risk allocation within our portfolio," Barclays strategists added. They prefer UK equities to the euro zone.

So far this earnings season, half of MSCI EMU companies have beaten analysts' expectations, with reported actual year-on-year earnings growth clocking in at 8.6 percent, according to I/B/E/S data.

BP's shares gained 0.7 percent after the oil major's second-quarter profit beat expectations on the back of higher oil prices and increased output.

Along with BP, Lundin Petroleum (ST:LUPE) helped boost Europe's energy index (SXEP). The Swedish independent oil firm rose around 7 percent after its second-quarter core profit beat expectations and its costs fell.

A number of smaller UK companies saw some big share price moves after their results. Shares in Travis Perkins (L:TPK) tumbled more than 10 percent and was one of the worst STOXX 600 performers after the building materials supplier cuts its profit outlook on the back of a weak DIY market.

Centrica (L:CNA) and Rentokil Initial (L:RTO) also fell after updates.

Elsewhere shares in Swiss group GAM Holding (S:GAMH) dropped 20.6 percent after it suspended its investment directed following an internal investigation.

European shares hold steady as results season steams along

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