European shares buoyed by banks, positive earnings

* FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.4 percent

* Banks mostly higher despite Societe Generale results

* Daimler slumps; scraps dividend after 2009 loss

By Brian Gorman

LONDON, Feb 18 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares were higher
around midday on Thursday, with the banking sector turning
positive, shrugging off disappointing results at Societe
Generale (SOGN.PA: ).

A raft of other earnings news was mostly positive.

At 1137 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index was up 0.4 percent at 1,019.02 points, on course for its
eighth gain in nine sessions.

“There’s been some good bottom-up newsflow. If you look at
the earnings, at the margin, they’ve been pretty good,” said
Georgina Taylor, equity strategist at Legal & General Investment
Management.

“People have put the macro headlines to one side. There’s a
bit of macro fatigue in the market. Investors took risk rapidly
off the table early in the year, so there’s room for a bit of a
short-term bounce,” she said.

The index is down 2.6 percent in 2010, partly on concern
about Greece’s deficit, but up more than 57 percent from its
lifetime low of March 9.

French bank Societe Generale fell 5.2 percent after traders
expressed disappointment at the fourth-quarter figures.
[ID:nLDE61H055]

But other banks reversed earlier losses, with analysts
pointing to better results for the sector as whole.

BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: ) and Barclays (BARC.L: ) gained 1.4 and
2.2 percent respectively, both building on gains this week
following strong results.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Lloyds (LLOY.L: ) and
Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) rose between 1.1 and 1.7 percent.

Carmakers were among the worst performers. Daimler
(DAIGn.DE: ) dropped 5.6 percent after it said it would skip a
dividend for 2009 results after it posted a 1.51 billion euro
($2.05 billion) loss before interest and tax. [ID:nLDE61G0LL]

BMW (BMWG.DE: ) and Fiat (FIA.MI: ) both fell 1.1 percent.

Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ), France’s CAC 40
(.FCHI: ) and Germany’s DAX (.GDAXI: ) were up between 0.4 and 0.6
percent.

U.S. weekly jobless claims data, due at 1330 GMT, will be a
focus for investors.

CAPGEMINI GAINS

Europe’s largest computer consultancy, Capgemini (CAPP.PA: ),
rose 4.6 percent after it reported earnings ahead of forecasts
and stuck to its longer-term outlook amid signs of improving
economic conditions. [ID:nLDE61E1PW]

Swiss engineering group ABB (ABBN.VX: ) rose 6 percent after
fourth-quarter results as it said it was looking to slash costs
by an extra $1 billion. [ID:nLDE61G110]

Insurer Swiss Re (RUKN.VX: ) was up 3.7 percent after it swung
to a 2009 net profit and strengthened its capital position.
[ID:nLDE61E1A3]

French electric equipment company Schneider Electric
(SCHN.PA: ) was 2.8 percent higher after it vowed to improve its
profitability in 2010 and expected single-digit sales growth
after a sales slump in 2009 and a margin drop. [ID:nLDE61G1XL]

Dutch chemical group AkzoNobel (AKZO.AS: ) slumped 8.2 percent
after it reported a worse-than-expected 4 percent rise in
fourth-quarter operating profit. [ID:nLDE61G1GR]

Investment Advice

(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

European shares buoyed by banks, positive earnings