* STOXX 600 up 0.2 pct, blue chips flat
* ASML leads tech higher after Q2 beat
* Earnings boost Georg Fischer, Ubisoft
* Falls in NCC, Assa Abloy weigh on construction sector
* Reckitt rises after food business sale news
(Adds quote and details, updates prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) – A slew of upbeat updates from
European firms helped the region’s benchmark index rise on
Wednesday and recoup some of the previous session’s sharp
losses, though weakness among construction firms and cyclical
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose up 0.2
percent while the blue chips were flat in percentage
Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML, up 3.7
percent, boosted the tech sector. The firm beat
quarterly earnings estimates thanks to strong demand from
manufacturers of memory chips.
Europe’s tech sector has gained more than 14 percent so far
this year, but worries over stretched valuations, especially
among U.S. peers, have put the brakes on this rally.
Strong first-half profit growth boosted shares in Georg
Fischer 6 percent to the top of the STOXX, while French
video games maker Ubisoft jumped more than 5 percent
on the back of a strong sales update.
Overall earnings in the second quarter are expected to grow
by 7.9 percent from the same period last year, which would be an
increase of 5.6 percent excluding the energy sector, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates.
“We would like to see those stronger earnings coming
through and Europe really turning a corner,” said Dafydd Davies,
partner at Charles Hanover Investments.
Energy stocks fell 0.1 percent, putting pressure on
Britain’s FTSE 100, while banks were 0.2 percent
lower, extending yesterday’s slide as Goldman Sachs put
pressure on U.S. lenders.
Heavy losses for builder NCC and lock maker Assa
Abloy weighed on the construction sector,
which fell 0.6 percent.
NCC slumped more than 9 percent after its second quarter
pretax profit came in below expectations, while Assa Abloy
dropped 8.5 percent after saying that demand in China had turned
sour again in the second quarter.
Cross-border deal-making rolled on with Reckitt Benckiser
up 1.3 percent after saying it would sell its food
business to U.S. spice and herbs co McCormick & Co Inc
for $4.2 bln. Reckitt shares were the biggest boosts on the FTSE
Shares in Spanish firms Aena and Abertis
were suspended following a report that the Spanish airport
operator had studied a possible takeover offer for the highway
German generic drugmaker Stada rose a modest 0.4
percent after a sweetened takeover offer from buyout groups Bain
Capital and Cinven.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Vikram Subhedar and Raissa