February 7, 2019 / 8:55 AM / 7 months ago

European shares ease as Publicis, GEA and TUI earnings weigh

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LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - European shares eased from 12-week highs on Thursday as weak earnings from Publicis, GEA and TUI offset gains in banks following better-than-expected results from Italy’s Unicredit.

Europe’s STOXX 600 was down 0.3 percent in early deals.

Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX was down 0.7 percent amid jitters about talks between China and the United States next week over their protracted trade spat. Washington will impose a new batch of tariffs on Chinese goods on March 2.

Bank stocks were some of the few gainers in early deals as Italy’s biggest bank UniCredit reported consensus-busting fourth-quarter results, bringing some much-needed cheer to the battered euro-zone sector.

UniCredit rose 2.7 percent, while Banco BPM was also up 1.8 percent after its results.

Societe Generale eked out gains even after it slashed its profitability targets hit by the market downturn last year.

Some of the bad news was priced in after its results warning in January, and investors also drew comfort from the French bank’s earnings presentation, which allayed worries about the need for a capital injection, traders said.

Elsewhere earnings news was largely downbeat.

Publicis dropped 14 percent as the world’s No. 3 advertising company’s results failed to win over investors and analysts who honed in on weaker-than-expected revenues. It dragged WPP down with it.

Tour operator TUI poured more cold water on the travel sector, the latest to blame last summer’s hot weather and the weaker pound for weaker-than-expected profits. The London-listed shares sank 15 percent to the bottom of the FTSE 100, hitting their lowest since April 2017.

Small-cap UK rival Thomas Cook rallied more than 9 percent after announcing a strategic review, including a possible sale of its airline business, as the world’s oldest travel company seeks to cut debt and restore investor confidence after two profit warnings late last year.

GEA Group sank 14 percent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after the German food processing machinery maker scrapped its mid-term targets and flagged a profit decline this year. (Reporting by Josephine Mason, Editing by Helen Reid)

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