January 19, 2018 / 8:25 AM / 6 months ago

European shares steady but set to end week near 2 1/2 year high

MILAN, Jan 19 (Reuters) - European shares were little changed in opening deals on Friday as gains among miners following strong economic data from top metals consumer China were offset by a pullback in crude prices.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 benchmark was up 0.1 percent by 0820 GMT but on track to end the week near a 2 1/2 year peak as confidence over economic and earnings growth helped consolidate a strong start of the year.

The basic resources index, where big mining stocks are listed, rose 0.4 percent, leading sectoral gainers in Europe, as metals prices were buoyed by the first acceleration in China’s GDP growth in seven years.

Among outstanding movers were shares in textile-and-surfacing solutions conglomerate OC Oerlikon , up 4.2 percent, after the Swiss-listed company forecast rising textile margins following two big Chinese orders.

Energy stocks were the biggest fallers, down 0.6 percent, tracking a fall of more than 1 percent in crude prices.

Air France, down 3.6 percent, led losers on the STOXX after a downgrade from Morgan Stanley.

Among UK mid-caps, a profit warning sent crematorium operator Dignity down 53 percent. Britain’s biggest floor coverings retailer Carpetright also warned on profits, sending its shares plummeting 44 percent.

Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Editing by Helen Reid

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