European stocks dip; eyes on JPMorgan results

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct after 1-1/2 week rally

* Greek banks jump on merger hopes after Piraeus’s moves

* Glaxo up as U.S. panel votes to keep Avandia on the market

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

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, July 15 (BestGrowthStock) – European share prices dipped on
Thursday, as investors took a breather after a 1-1/2 week
recovery rally, bracing for results due from JPMorgan (JPM.N: )
before the U.S. markets open.

At 0955 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top
European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,044.19 points.

“Banks’ results should be less spectacular than in the last
few quarters, especially on the fixed income side for investment
banking, but the real focus will be on toxic assets and how big
the provisions for non-performing loans are,” said Sebastien
Barthelemi, analyst at Louis Capital Markets in Paris.

Greek banks surged after Piraeus Bank (BOPr.AT: ) offered to
buy stakes in ATEbank (AGBr.AT: ) and Hellenic Postbank, sparking
hopes of a consolidation wave in the Greek banking sector that
has been hammered over the past nine months by fears about the
country’s debt crisis.

Despite Thursday’s 6 percent rally, the Greek bank index
(.FTATBNK: ) is still down 60 percent since mid-October 2009.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ) climbed 1.5 percent in a relief
rally following a U.S. panel of health experts that voted to
keep the drugmaker’s diabetes pill Avandia on the market but
with new warnings on heart risks.

But Glaxo’s rise was limited by news of a hefty 1.57
billion pound ($2.4 billion) legal charge for Avandia and other
long-standing legal cases. [ID:nLDE66E081]

Rival Novartis (NOVN.VX: ) rose 1.2 percent after the Swiss
drugmaker raised its full-year sales goal, citing strong demand
for its newest products.

Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index (.FTSE: ) was down 0.3
percent, Germany’s DAX index (.GDAXI: ) flat, and France’s CAC 40
(.FCHI: ) down 0.1 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 had jumped 8 percent since July 5,
following a torrid two-week sell-off.

“I get the feeling that there remains a lot of cash sitting
on the sidelines that missed the move higher over the last seven
days,” City Index strategist Joshua Raymond wrote in a note.

“If companies’ earnings continue to outperform there is
every chance that this will provide the cherry to entice that
cash back into the market which could help drive indices higher.
But in truth, that is a big ‘if’.”

Investors’ risk appetite continued to grow on Thursday
despite the lack of clear direction in equities, with the
VDAX-NEW volatility index (.V1XI: ), Europe’s main barometer of
investor anxiety, falling 4.7 percent to a 2 1/2 month low.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

European stocks dip; eyes on JPMorgan results