October 23, 2019 / 7:29 AM / 5 months ago

European shares nudge up, earnings a mixed bag

(Reuters) - European shares struggled to make headway on Wednesday as investor concerns about a further delay to Britain’s departure from the EU offset gains for London’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 from a weaker pound and some decent corporate earnings.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed just 0.1% higher, with technology stocks .SX8P among the biggest drags after a sales warning from U.S. chipmaker Texas Instruments (TXN.O) hit its European peers.

Shares in Infineon (IFXGn.DE), Dialog (DLGS.DE) and STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) fell between 0.4% and 2.8% after the sector proxy forecast a 10-17% drop in current-quarter revenue.

Mining stocks .SXPP jumped 1%, lifted by a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly profit at aluminium producer Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL).

The Peugeot and Citroen manufacturer PSA Group (PEUP.PA) gained 3.2% after reporting a rise in third-quarter revenue on strong demand for its pricier SUV models.

“Broadly, I would say results are probably mixed. No dramatic trends,” said Niall Gallagher, investment director at GAM.

As well as Peugeot, Gallagher highlighted positive earnings updates from Louis Vuitton owner LVMH (LVMH.PA) and semiconductor equipment maker ASML (ASML.AS) last week as encouraging signs.

“They’re evidence that growth remains fairly attractive,” he added.

London's blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE gained 0.7% as exporters on the index got a boost from a weaker pound after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal hit a new snag. FTSE midcap stocks .FTMC closed flat.

Britain’s parliament rejected Johnson’s tight timetable to legislate on the agreement before a Oct. 31 deadline, leaving EU leaders to consider whether to grant Britain a further three-month Brexit extension.

European stock markets have been rattled in the past few months by geopolitical concerns, a prolonged U.S.-China trade war and a manufacturing recession in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy.

After a solid 12% gain in the first quarter, the STOXX 600 index lost steam, adding 1.5% in Q2 and 2% in Q3. It is up 0.3% since the start of October.

Analysts expect a drop of as much as 5.3% in third-quarter corporate profits, worse than the 3.7% fall expected a week ago, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Heineken (HEIN.AS) shares lost 3.1% after the world’s second largest brewer said operating profit this year would be at the lower end of its previous forecast.

Shares in Swedbank (SWEDa.ST) fell 4.5% after it reported a bigger-than-expected drop in quarterly earnings, while shares in Germany’s Carl Zeiss Meditec (AFXG.DE) tumbled 8.8% after its full-year EBIT margin fell short of its latest guidance.

Among the stronger performers, Danish jewellery maker Pandora (PNDORA.CO) jumped 16%, with traders pointing to an upgrade to “hold” by brokerage Carnegie.

Swiss engineering firm ABB (ABBN.S) gained 3.5% after its third-quarter profit fell by less than expected, even as it warned that conditions were weakening in the United States and China, its two biggest markets.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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