Apple puts a brake on European shares, eclipses China data

Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:37am GMT

* FTSEurofirst down 0.2 percent
    * Apple's revenue outlook dents tech stocks
    * Easyjet sales boost airlines
    * China PMI improves miners' demand outlook

    By David Brett
    LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - European shares dipped on
Thursday after weaker-than-expected results from U.S. giant
Apple fanned earnings worries in the technology sector,
offsetting more bullish economic data out of China.
    By 0836 GMT, the FTSEurofirst was down 1.71 points,
or 0.2 percent at 1,165.64. The index has been trading in a
tight 10-point range since nearing two-year highs at the start
2013.
    The market was jittery after the world's largest tech
company Apple reported weaker-than-expected revenues for a third
straight quarter. 
    Apple's earnings eclipsed data showing accelerating growth
in China's factory sector, although that did provide some
support for the basic resources sector which
outperformed the broader index, rising 0.2 percent.
 
    Tech stocks were down 0.6 percent with ARM,
whose chip designs are used in many of Apple's products, falling
1.4 percent.
    "Apple's outlook is weighing on sentiment in the tech sector
and the wider market this morning," Jawaid Afsar, a sales trader
at Securequity, said.
    "Markets have run up well and a pause for breath is to be
expected. All the major benchmarks are looking overbought and
any short-term correction will be seen as a buying opportunity
but the longer-term trend is still to the upside," he said.
    Apple's downbeat outlook took the shine off an otherwise
solid start to the earnings season in the U.S. and in Europe.
    Although early days in the reporting season, 75 percent of
U.S. companies that have reported earnings have either beaten or
met expectations. On average their earnings grew 14.7 percent in
the fourth quarter from a year earlier.
    In Europe, 80 percent of companies reporting so far have
either beaten or met expectations, although reported
year-on-year fourth quarter earnings have contracted by 0.8
percent on average, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.
    Earnings news in Europe on Thursday was positive with UK
budget airline EasyJet posting strong quarterly revenue
growth, sending its shares up 3.6 percent. 
    That helped pushed up shares of competitor Ryannair 
by 2.5 percent.
    Expectations that earnings from Dutch consumer electronics
maker Philips' could beat market expectations when it
reports helped lift the company's shares 1.5 percent to 22.095
euros.
    UBS upgraded Philips to "buy" from "neutral".
    "We raise our price target on Philips to 24 euros from 19.50
euros to reflect higher earnings forecasts, higher anticipated
sustainable growth rates and our belief that the group could
surprise positively on margins in coming quarters," UBS analysts
said.
    While European shares were weaker losses were limited and
there was some relief after the U.S. House of Representatives
voted to raise the federal debt limit. 
    "Action by U.S. lawmakers goes someway in soothing worries
... although just kicking the can down the road, it does restore
some lost faith in U.S. politicians, and traders are now hopeful
that lawmakers can address the remainder of the issues much
sooner than some had expected in the market," Ishaq Siddiqi,
Market Strategist at ETX Capital, said.