Earnings and dovish ECB lift European shares to five month high

European shares rose near a five-month peak on Friday helped by solid results from companies including Volkswagen and prospects that the ECB would keep policy accommodative for longer.

The European Central Bank took a step towards weaning the euro zone off loose money on Thursday but promised years of stimulus and even left the door open to backtracking.

While the pan-European STOXX 600 index added 0.4 percent by 0757 GMT, set for a weekly gain of around 0.8 percent after a fall in the previous week, the euro zone STOXX 50 was set for their ninth straight week of gains.

The euro zone blue chip index was very close to close to hitting its highest level since August 2015, while the export oriented Germany blue-chip DAX index rose 0.7 percent to a fresh record high.

“European equities will benefit from the continuation of ample financial conditions, with strong GDP growth in the fourth quarter expected to help further corporate earnings gains,” said Sandrine Perret, European Strategist at Credit Suisse.

“Germany could benefit in particular, helped by still buoyant economic growth,” she added.

The DAX was supported by gains in Volkswagen, up 1.4 percent after posting results that Jefferies analysts said were “strong all around”.

The world’s largest automaker lifted its profit guidance for this year after posting forecast-beating group earnings in the third quarter, benefiting from cost cuts at its core autos division.

Linde (>> Linde Group (The)) rose 3 percent as the German industrial gases maker reported a 3 percent rise third-quarter core profit helped by cost cuts ahead of its planned $80 billion merger with U.S. peer Praxair (>> Praxair, Inc.).

UBS (>> UBS Group) rose as much as 2 percent after the world’s biggest private bank posted a 14 percent jump in third-quarter net profit but kept a cautious outlook for the rest of 2017 due to political and monetary policy uncertainty.

The stock later pared some gains and was up 0.3 percent.

“UBS reported relatively solid results, but we also see some shadows. We think that the significant beat on adjusted EBT (earnings before tax) level is of rather low quality and investors might dislike a notable deterioration of net new assets dynamic in WM unit,” said Baader Helvea in a note.

Royal Bank of Scotland (>> Royal Bank of Scotland Group) added 2.7 percent after the UK bank posted a better than expected quarterly profit.

Tech stocks were strong, up 0.9 percent, following upbeat earnings from U.S. giants Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon.com. In the sector, digital security company Gemalto (>> Gemalto), which has issued four profit warnings in the last year, rallied 10 percent as results reassured.

Top loser on the STOXX was Eutelsat (>> Eutelsat Communications) after the satellite firm reported lower revenues.

LafargeHolcim (>> LafargeHolcim) fell 2.3 percent after the cement maker ditched its target of double-digit growth in adjusted core operating profit this year, citing a slowdown during the rest of 2017.

Separately, South African peer PPC (>> PPC Ltd) said it had received an expression of interest from LafargeHolcim which is planning a combination of some of its African assets.

According to Thomson Reuters data 34 percent of MSCI Europe companies have reported results so far, with earnings beats at 54 percent and misses at 36 percent. Revenue beats were 52 percent and misses 48 percent.

Clariant (>> Clariant) fell 6.5 percent after the Swiss speciality chemicals maker and U.S. group Huntsman (>> Huntsman Corporation) abandoned their $20 billion merger on Friday, notching a win for activist investors who fought against the deal for months on the grounds it would destroy shareholder value.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Toby Chopra)