Stocks

European shares recover as earnings dominate; Lufthansa disappoints

Reuters London | Updated on April 26, 2018 Published on April 26, 2018

Industrials were strong overall, with French engine maker Safran rising after results, but Lufthansa weighed down the sector with a 6.1 per cent fall.

Encouraging results and a recovery among industrials helped European stock markets on Thursday, while earnings disappointments weighed heavily on some stocks, including Germany's Lufthansa and Kion.

The STOXX 600 inched up 0.2 per cent by 0833 GMT, enjoying a timid bounce from the one-week lows hit in the previous session, when anxiety over rising bond yields jolted risky assets.

As investors sifted through the heaviest week of earnings season, JP Morgan equity strategist Mislav Matejka said: “Based on the results so far, the earnings delivery looks encouraging in the US, while the numbers in Europe and Japan are somewhat softer, but still positive.”

Bank earnings were a key focus.

Deutsche Bank shares recovered after a 2.6 per cent fall at the open, trading up 0.2 per cent by 0833 GMT after the bank said it would scale back its bond and equities trading in a major overhaul of its investment bank, after reporting a 79 percent drop in net profit in the first quarter.

“The strategy potentially resolves the capitalisation concerns of the bank, but profitability remains an issue,” said KBW analysts.

Deutsche Bank shares are down more than 27 per cent year-to-date, the worst-performing of the European banks sector .

Meanwhile Norway's largest bank, DNB, jumped 5.9 per cent after profit beat expectations as a pick-up in activity in the oil sector wiped the bank clean of loan losses.

Among notable gainers, Finnish oil refining firm Neste topped the STOXX, jumping 12 per cent after reporting first-quarter sales that comfortably topped analysts' estimates.

Industrials were strong overall, with French engine maker Safran rising after results, but Lufthansa weighed down the sector with a 6.1 per cent fall. The German airline's revenue growth disappointed due to expansion of its Eurowings budget carrier.

Investors are watching the European earnings season keenly for any signs of strain from slowing economic growth after recent business activity and consumer confidence measures faltered.

Analysts have downgraded their expectations for euro zone earnings. The euro zone STOXX saw the biggest downward revisions to earnings estimates since July 2016 this week.

Oil majors moved in opposite directions after results. France's Total rose a modest 0.4 per cent after it reported that record production had lifted profits, while Royal Dutch Shell declined 2.4 per cent despite reporting a 42 per cent rise in first-quarter profit.

“First quarter free cash flow generation was at $4.4 billion, below our estimates on weaker than expected operating cash flow,” wrote Goldman Sachs analysts on Shell.

Finnish mobile equipment maker Nokia tumbled 7.1 per cent after profits fell short of expectations due to telecom operators holding off spending. German forklift maker Kion blamed a slowing in the market for weaker than expected first-quarter order intake. Its shares tumbled 6.4 per cent.

Shares in Philips Lighting, the world's largest lighting maker, fell 11 per cent after the firm reported lower than expected first-quarter earnings due to falling sales and margins.

BE Semiconductor Industries sank 12 per cent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after its results. Semiconductors across Europe have been under pressure recently as sentiment on the tech sector turns more pessimistic.

The autos sector was the best-performing after a report that China is considering halving duty on imported cars. Peugeot rose 1.5 per cent and Fiat Chrysler was up 1 per cent. Volkswagen gained 2.8 per cent to lead the DAX, boosted also by first-quarter results and optimism over its new CEO.

Published on April 26, 2018
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