European shares flat; LVMH lifts luxury stocks

* FTSEurofirst 300 index pares early losses, turns flat

* Upbeat sales at LVMH lift luxury goods stocks

* U.S. trade deficit widens more than expected

* Banks slip; U.S. earnings awaited

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU]

By Brian Gorman

LONDON, April 13 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares pared early
losses and turned flat on Tuesday afternoon, as strong sales
from LVMH (LVMH.PA: ) lifted the luxury goods sector, offsetting a
dip in banking stocks.

At 1223 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index of top shares was flat at 1,101.23 points, having moved in
a range of 5.41 points between a high of 1,102.76 and a low of
1,097.35.

The index is up more than 70 percent since reaching a
lifetime low in early March 2009.

Analysts said investors were wary ahead of key first-quarter
earnings statements from the likes of Intel (INTC.O: ) and JP
Morgan (JPM.N: ) due this week.

“We’re just starting the U.S. earnings season, and it may be
that the market wants to see the lie of the land,” said Mike
Lenhoff, chief strategist and head of research at Brewin Dolphin
Securities, in London.

He added: “It looks as if the momentum that had been
carrying the markets forward has been drained a little. The
markets have performed astonishingly well.”

Luxury goods retailers were boosted by LVMH, the world’s
biggest luxury goods group, which rose 3 percent after it
reported forecast-beating comparable sales growth for the first
quarter. [ID:nLDE63813C]

Within the sector, Christian Dior (DIOR.PA: ) and Luxottica
(LUX.MI: ) rose 2.6 and 1 percent respectively.

Spirits groups Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA: ) and Diageo (DGE.L: )
gained 3.1 and 1.8 percent respectively, boosted by strong sales
figures at LVMH’s wine and spirits division.

Banks were lower, reversing gains from the previous session,
with investors awaiting results from key U.S. firms this week,
including JPMorgan (JPM.N: ), Bank of America (BAC.N: ) and General
Electric (GE.N: ), to gauge the pace of economic recovery in the
world’s largest economy.

Barclays (BARC.L: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ) and Lloyds (LLOY.L: ) fell
between 0.6 and 1.3 percent.

Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) and Germany’s DAX
(.GDAXI: ) were down 0.2 and 0.1 percent respectively; France’s
CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) rose 0.1 percent.

On the macro front, a jump in imports of consumer goods and
other products widened the U.S. trade gap in February to $39.7
billion, more than forecast, but the closely watched bilateral
deficit with China was its lowest in nearly a year, a government
report showed on Tuesday. [ID:nN12139785]

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones (.DJI: ), S&P 500 (.SPX: ) and
Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC: ) were down 0.2-0.3 percent in early
trade.

Stock Basics

(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

European shares flat; LVMH lifts luxury stocks