* FTSEurofirst 300 closed up 5.16 points at 1,292.73
* Energy sector leads fallers after Shell's results
* Technip, Novo Nordisk also fall after earnings
* Fed's statement leaves question marks over QE
* Autos lead gainers as Nokian Renkaat beats estimates
By David Brett
LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Disappointing results from
heavyweight energy firm Royal Dutch Shell kept Europe's blue
chip share index in check on Thursday, as central bank stimulus
continued to fuel appetite for European equties.
Shares in Shell, Europe's third largest-listed
company by market capitalisation, shed 5 percent and took 2
points of the FTSEurofirst 300 alone after its
third-quarter results undershot forecasts.
The FTSEurofirst closed up 5.16 points at 1,292.73 thanks to
gains in banks and the automobile sector, ending the month at a
fresh five-year high with the index gaining 3.7 percent in
Sentiment towards the energy sector on Thursday,
which lagged broader gains, took a further knock after U.S. firm
Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company,
reported a fall in quarterly profits.
French oil services company Technip was the top
faller in percentage terms, skidding 10 percent, after it cut
its full-year sales and margin targets for its subsea business.
Away from energy-related firms, Danish drugmaker Novo
Nordisk plunged 7.4 percent after missing
third-quarter profit and sales forecasts.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 53 percent of
STOXX Europe 600 companies have met or beaten analysts'
expectations so far this quarter, roughly in line with the
average over the last few quarters, although downgrades to
12-month earnings forecasts have slowed in the past week,
according to Datastream.
"The earnings that are coming through are weak but stable
but the broader environment is much more supportive of equity
prices," said Oliver Wallin, investment director at Octopus
"The amount of liquidity in the markets and the capacity in
Europe and Japan to inject further is generally positive."
The FTSEurofirst remains at five-year highs with the recent
rally underpinned by central bank stimulus, which continues to
fuel demand for equities and drive down yields on other asset
A slightly less dovish statement from the Federal Reserve
overnight, however, raised concerns the U.S. central bank could
start trimming its stimulus sooner than foreseen.
"The idea of even a slight reduction in (Fed) bond
purchasing albeit in January or February; seems to make the
markets very uncomfortable," Farhan Ahmad, a dealer at
"From a trader's point of view this represents a shorting
opportunity and then finally an end to the great recession that
began in 2008 and a return to normal equity markets."
British investors increased their bond holdings to
four-month highs in October as uncertainty lingered over how
long U.S. interest rates will remain very low.
The European automobile index climbed 1.4 percent,
the top sectoral gainer, led by a 5.8 percent jump in Finnish
tyre maker Nokian Renkaat after it reported
better-than predicted operating profit.
The market also got support from a 1 percent gain in the
banking sector, with Spain's Banco Popular
jumping 7.4 percent after posting better than expected
nine-month earnings thanks to trading and capital gains.