European shares weighed by BT, utilities, but banks gain


European shares steadied on Thursday as a flurry of company results rolled in with losses in BT following a disappointing update and weighed down further by a weakness among utilities stocks.

Gains in RBS (L:RBS) following a multi-billion deal to settle a U.S. investigation of the bank’s bond sales, and a solid update from Italy’s biggest bank UniCredit (MI:CRDI) buoyed the banking sector, helping the pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) steady by 0748 GMT.

BT (L:BT) shares fell 7.1 percent after saying it was cutting 13,000 jobs, the latest attempt by Britain’s biggest telecoms group to rebuild after an accounting scandal and a downturn in trading.

Traders said its latest update showed a disappointing guidance, while Jefferies analysts highlighted that the company missed on the opportunity of announcing a bolder mover of fiber roll out while job cuts were bigger then expected.

“No evidence of inflection in results or mindset,” said Jefferies.

RBS rallied 5.5 percent after it agreed to pay a smaller-than-expected $4.9 billion to resolve a U.S. investigation into its sale of mortgage-backed securities.

Analysts, who had estimated the U.S. could impose a fine of up to $12 billion, said the bank could reinstate a dividend.

Gains in RBS helped the UK’s FTSE (FTSE) edge ahead 0.2 percent, outperforming other European bourses ahead of a Bank of England policy meeting expected to keep interest rates on hold.

Still in banks, UniCredit rose 2.7 percent after it posted its best first-quarter result since 2007, topping forecasts with a 1.1 billion euro net profit thanks to lower-than-expected loan losses.

Italy’s FTSE MIB (FTMIB) fell as much as 0.7 percent, as bond yields jumped on an increased possibility that a government of anti-establishment parties will take power. The index however recovered ground and was up 0.2 percent.

Top movers on the STOXX also included precious metals miner Randgold (L:RRS), down 6.6 percent after its quarterly profit fell, while Next (L:NXT) rose 5.7 percent after a strong outlook and trading update.

Utilities were a weak spot, down 0.8 percent to lead sectoral losers in Europe, weighed by a disappointing update at Italy’s Enel (L:RRS).



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