European shares stage recovery, helped by earnings

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 05, 2013 12:40 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.6 percent

* BP, ARM rise on Q4 profits beats

* KPN slides after rights issue announcement

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - European stock markets staged a tentative recovery on Tuesday after a sharp sell-off a day earlier as investors waded through a stack of earnings reports, with ARM and BP both enjoying strong gains.

British chip designer ARM was among the top FTSEurofirst 300 risers, up 3.8 percent after it unveiled a better-than-expected rise in pretax profit in the fourth quarter, boosted by rising sales of smartphones and tablets using the firm's technology.

Index heavyweight BP advanced 1.5 percent after its fourth-quarter profits exceeded analysts' expectations, helped by a record performance from its refining division.

Sector peer BG Group, however, was a major drag, off 2 percent, as it warned it would miss a medium-term production target.

The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.6 percent at 1,157.62 by 1203 GMT, recouping some of a 1.5 percent drop seen on Monday when political uncertainty in the euro zone's big debtor states prompted investors to lock in profits on indexes trading close to multi-year highs.

A corruption scandal in Spain and polls showing Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi regaining ground before elections this month triggered fresh concern over potential threats to euro zone stability and growth.

"We would normally expect clients to really start buying following such a big fall but that hasn't been the case at all today," said Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads.

"Our clients feel that with the Italian election looming in a few weeks' time ... they're just remaining really quite cautious."

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 climbed 1.1 percent to 2,652.84, having erased all its gains for the year with a 3.1 percent fall on Monday.

GFT markets technical analyst Fawad Razaqzada remained constructive on the index.

"The technical picture still looks bullish to me as long it holds above 2,600/10 (resistance in September)," he said.

Razaqzada sees near-term resistance around the 2,670 area, followed by 2,700 - both intra-day support levels.

Elsewhere among the fallers, KPN slid 22.2 percent after the Dutch telecoms group announced plans to cut its debt with a 4 billion euro ($5.4 billion) cash call to shareholders, as it posted a fourth-quarter net loss.

Trading volume in KPN was robust, at 450 percent of its 90-day daily average, against the FTSEurofirst 300 on 56 percent of its average.

Tele2 was another significant decliner, down 10.5 percent, after warning of slower growth in Sweden and Russia this year after the Nordic and emerging markets telecoms group reported lower than expected fourth-quarter earnings.

Trading volume in Tele2 stood at 468 percent of its 90-day daily average.

The fourth-quarter earnings season in Europe has got off to a mixed start. Of the 19 percent of companies to have reported, 65 percent have beaten or met expectations, but with a quarterly year-on-year contraction of 12.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.

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