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European shares seek footing as earnings roll in; autos down

European shares seek footing as earnings roll in; autos downMILAN: European shares inched higher on Wednesday led by technology stocks, as some upbeat earning updates including from semiconductor bellwether ASML buoyed sentiment following a turbulent start to the month.

Investors however remained cautious after the region’s equities hit a 22-month low last week when jitters over rising US bond yields, geopolitical worries and signs of an economic slowdown rattled global markets.

After hitting a one-week high in opening deals, the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark index pared some gains and was up only 0.1 percent by 0827 GMT.

Germany’s DAX index turned negative, weighed by losses in the trade-exposed auto sector, which fell 1.2 percent after Goldman Sachs said it viewed the third quarter as a challenging time for the industry.

Disappointing results from Fresenius Medical Care also weighed.

“We still have a lot of uncertainty… The situation is certainly not brilliant but probably not as bad as feared a few days ago,” said Gerhard Schwarz, Head of Equity & Cross Asset Strategy at Baader Bank in Munich.

“We have seen a lot of profit warnings over the last couple of weeks but also some companies that stick to their guidance. If we manage to steer through the reporting season quite okay, then the markets too may get a lift,” he said.

ASML shares rose 5.9 percent after the Dutch equipment supplier to computer chipmakers posted a stronger-than-expected rise in quarterly earnings, easing worries over a slowdown in the semiconductor market.

ING analysts called the results “a very comforting update”.

The company said demand for memory and logic chips remains healthy and it expects further growth in 2019. That helped to lift shares in other tech companies and sent their sectoral index up 1.8 percent.

Among top gainers following results were also UK publisher Pearson and paints maker Akzo Nobel, both up around 3 percent, while drugs giant Roche was flat after a modest sales beat in the third quarter.

Fresenius Medical Care sank 15 percent after the German dialysis specialist cut its 2018 sales and profit targets following a poor performance at its US business.

Yoghurt maker Danone also disappointed. Its shares fell 3.5 percent after quarterly sales growth slowed sharply, reflecting falling sales of its infant formula products in China and troubles from a consumer boycott in Morocco.

In autos, shares in Renault, Fiat Chrysler and Daimler fell between 2.3 and 1 percent.

Overall, European third-quarter earnings are expected to rise 13.6 percent, slightly down from the 14 percent growth expected last week, according to Refinitiv IBES data, as analysts have been downgrading their forecasts.

Euro zone earnings growth forecasts have also fallen to 11.7 percent from 12 percent.

Copyright Reuters, 2018

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