March 13, 2018 / 8:53 AM / a year ago

European shares crawl higher as investors eye U.S. inflation data

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LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher on Tuesday, with trading muted as investors awaited the latest inflation figures from the United States, while results drove big moves in Iliad and E.ON.

French telecoms company Iliad fell 6.7 percent even as it reported higher annual sales and profits for 2017, with traders pointing to flat fixed-line revenues in the final quarter.

It comes as dominant French telecoms company Orange returned to growth last year for the first time since 2009 after spending heavily to roll out high-speed broadband.

The STOXX 600 gained 0.1 percent, while Italian and Spanish stocks rose 0.3 to 0.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE was a laggard, down 0.1 percent.

Utilities were the best-performing sector for a second day on plans by German utilities RWE and E.ON to divide up the assets of power utility Innogy.

E.ON got a further boost to the top of the STOXX 600 on Tuesday, its shares gaining 4.4 percent after its results. The company said it would raise its dividends for 2018 and 2019.

Struggling South African retailer Steinhoff saw its Germany-listed shares rise 5.5 percent after it cut its stake in KAP Industrial as it tries to plug a liquidity gap.

Wacker Chemie fell 4.3 percent, with traders citing a weaker full-year outlook from the chemicals maker which said sales would slow due to currency pressures.

Veolia fell 2.8 percent, the top faller on France’s CAC 40, after the Qatari government sold its 4.6 percent stake in the utility group. (Reporting by Helen Reid editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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