Casino jumps, financials provide support as European shares pause for breath

* STOXX 600 up 0.3 pct at close

* Casino leads retailers higher after strong Q2

* Umicore jumps after add to ABN’s ‘conviction list’

* AstraZeneca dips on report of CEO move
(Adds detail, updates prices at close)

By Helen Reid and Kit Rees

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – European shares inched higher on
Thursday, with investors less keen to chase the previous
session’s strong rally that came on the back of the relatively
dovish tone struck by Fed chair Janet Yellen overnight.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.3 percent at
its close while blue-chips gained 0.4 percent, with
rate-sensitive real estate stocks, which were top
gainers on Wednesday, tracking more modest gains.

On Wednesday, the European benchmark posted its best day
since Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the first round of French
presidential elections, as banks and yield plays rallied.

“With stocks having come off in the last few weeks, maybe
investors were thinking now is the time to take the opportunity
of that pullback and add some more,” said Mike Bell, global
market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

“Yellen’s speech was a catalyst for that.”

Cyclicals were back to the fore on Thursday with banks,
which gain from higher rates, up 0.9 percent.

“Our view remains that government bond yields will move
higher, and that leaves us still favouring the less
rate-sensitive parts of the stock market, cyclicals, while we’re
more cautious on defensives,” Bell added.

Commerzbank led the sector higher with a gain of
2.7 percent after saying that it was well on its way to reach
its job reduction goals.

Earnings began trickling in from a string of French
companies.

Supermarket Casino jumped 3.6 percent, bolstering
gains among retailers, after its second-quarter sales
growth accelerated, helped by a brightening domestic picture and
a resilient performance in Brazil despite the recession there.

“The beat is likely helped by good weather annualizing
against a period of poor weather and strikes,” said Bernstein
retail analyst Bruno Monteyne.

“What’s not clear at this stage is whether, like Carrefour,
the sales beat at Casino will have come at the cost of higher
promotions and price cuts,” he added.

Umicore jumped nearly 4 percent higher after a
top-ranked analyst at ABN Amro added the Belgian chemicals group
to their ‘conviction list’, citing capacity increases in the
company’s battery business, as growth prospects for the electric
car industry improve.

Tullow Oil also benefited from a positive broker
view, with its shares up 5.6 percent and leading the STOXX after
Numis upgraded its on the energy stock rating to “buy” from
“add”.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca was among the worst European
performers after a report that Chief Executive Pascal Soriot was
to be named CEO of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
.
(Reporting by Helen Reid & Kit Rees; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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