Spanish stocks lead European pull-back with worst day in 6 months

Last Updated: Thu, May 11, 2017 22:40 hrs

* STOXX 600 down 0.5 pct

* Banco Popular leads losers in Madrid

* UniCredit rises on strong results, capital

* BT falls after revealing restructuring plan

* Greek stocks rise for 13th day (Adds details, closing prices)

By Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid

MILAN, May 11 (Reuters) - European shares pulled back on Thursday with Spanish blue chips suffering their biggest one-day loss in six months, weighed down by losses among banks, while Italian lender UniCredit shone after solid results.

Traders said equities in the region looked set for a short-term correction after hitting fresh highs this month following the market-friendly outcome of the French presidential vote.

Earnings and the economic outlook, however, remained strong, pointing to solid prospects for stocks in Europe. DZ Bank chief investment strategist Christian Kahler said he expected German blue chips to rise a further 6 percent in the next 12 months, bringing the DAX to new record highs.

"Earnings growth is likely to accelerate in 2017/18, and therefore equity markets are likely to continue to rise in spite of some high valuations and geopolitical risks," he said. "However, we do not expect any quiet sideways market".

The DAX fell 0.3 percent, slightly outperforming broader regional indexes, while Spain's IBEX lagged with a fall of 1.6 percent, its biggest daily loss since Nov. 10. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.5 percent, while euro zone blue chips dropped 0.6 percent.

Greek stocks rose for the 13th day in a row, their longest winning streak in at least 20 years, on growing optimism about a potential deal with lenders.

Banco Popular was the biggest faller in Madrid, down 6.6 percent. Spanish website El Confidencial said the chairman of the lender had hired advisers for an urgent sale of the bank.

"Not great news, this looks like force selling and this won't be at current price," said a Mediobanca trader in a note, adding he expected the news to weigh on Spanish banks.

Banco Bilbao declined 2.2 percent and Santander dropped 1.2 percent.

Elsewhere in the banking sector, Italy's UniCredit and Mediobanca rose 3.7 percent and 1.3 percent respectively after well-received earnings updates, helping the broader euro zone bank index limit the losses to 0.7 percent.

UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets which completed successfully an 8 billion euro cash call earlier this year, reported better-than-expected first-quarter profits, higher revenues and a fall in loan losses.

"We believe that strong headlines across the board on asset quality, capital and profit recovery should all support continued re-rating of the stock," said Jefferies analysts.

Italy's banking index tested its highest levels in more than a year, ending up 0.9 percent.

Telecoms stocks were among the worst-performing, with BT down 4.5 percent after it announced 4,000 job cuts in a restructuring to recover from a year it called "challenging".

Among smaller companies, heat-pump maker Nibe Industrier rose 9.4 percent after its first-quarter profits beat forecasts.

German commercial broadcaster ProSiebensat fell 5.9 percent after it reported a disappointing advertising outlook.

So far two-thirds of European companies have reported results and 70 percent beat expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)