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Focus back on earnings for European shares; Reckitt, Sodexo weigh
July 6, 2017 / 8:56 AM / in 5 months

Focus back on earnings for European shares; Reckitt, Sodexo weigh

* Pan-European index down 0.1 percent

* Reckitt, Sodexo fall after outlook cut

* But Primark owner gains after update

* Banks, utilities flat ahead of ECB minutes (Adds details, updates prices)

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, July 6 (Reuters) - European shares inched lower on Thursday though a series of earnings updates grabbed the focus with Reckitt Benckiser and Sodexo leading fallers after both companies cut their guidance.

The pan-European STOXX 600 and euro zone blue chips were down 0.1 percent by 0820 GMT, while UK’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.1 percent.

Reckitt fell 2.1 percent, making it the biggest weight on the STOXX.

The UK consumer goods group cut its growth forecast after a global cyber attack last month disrupted business in multiple markets.

“We would not see weakness in the share price today as a buying opportunity. Reckitt’s markets are likely to have remained sluggish, with peers signalling no pick up here,” Investec said as it cut their price target on the stock.

Sodexo, the world’s second-biggest catering services firm after Compass Group, also cut its sales growth goal after weaker-than-expected third quarter results, sending its stock down 5.2 percent to a 14-week low.

Compass shares were down 0.9 percent.

Some earning updates struck a more positive note.

Associated British Foods rose 4.4 percent, topping gainers in Europe, after the company said its full-year outlook had marginally improved after a better-than-expected performance from its Primark clothing chain.

“The key divisional figure in this statement, as has become the norm with ABF, is Primark sales growth,” Morgan Stanley said.

In the banking sector, Commerzbank rose 1.2 percent after a Bloomberg report said that buy-out firm Cerberus is considering buying a minority stake in the German lender through purchases on the market.

The broader banking sector, recently underpinned by talk of tightening monetary policy conditions, was flat ahead of the release later in the day of the minutes of the European Central Bank’s last policy meeting.

The minutes could provide more clues about future plans of euro zone rate-setters, possibly affecting rate-sensitive sectors like banks and utilities, which also were flat.

Meanwhile Italian banks rose 0.7 percent, continuing to outperform after a series of deals in the last two weeks which have restored confidence in the sector’s prospects.

Italy’s economy minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, said there were no more “brushfires” threatening other banks after the government wound down two Veneto-based last month in a deal that could cost the state up to 17 billion euros. .

Elsewhere price action was drive by broker moves with media companies Mediaset Espana and Prosiebensa t down 2.9 percent and X percent respectively after JPMorgan downgraded both companies.

Denmark-based hearing aid manufacturer William Demant rose 2.6 percent after a Credit Suisse upgrade to “neutral”.

Live coverage of European markets: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Reporting by Danilo; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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