European shares edge up; InBev rises

Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:11pm EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 closes up 0.2 pct after steep fall on Wed

* InBev jumps 5.4 percent after posting strong results

* U.S. jobless data limits gains

By Brian Gorman

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher on Thursday, with brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) boosted by a forecast-beating profit and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) rising on a drug approval.

Gains were limited by an unexpected rise in U.S. jobless claims, and the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares rose 0.2 percent to close at 1,042.77 points after falling 2 percent to a three-week closing low on Wednesday.

The European benchmark index is up 61 percent from its lifetime low of March 9, 2009, but is down 0.3 percent for 2010, partly on worries about the strength of the recovery.

AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, led the market higher, rising 5.4 percent after quarterly profit came in above expectations, helped by good weather and strong beer sales in Brazil.

Peers SABMiller (SAB.L) and Heineken (HEIN.AS) rose 1.7 percent and 2.3 percent respectively. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) shares rose 2.6 percent after U.S. advisers recommended approval of Potiga, a new epilepsy drug developed with Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX.N).

But there was also bad news for Glaxo just before the close of the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said its anti-seizure drug Lamictal can cause aseptic meningitis.

Other drug company shares and telecom shares rose as this week's slide in equities pushed investors towards defensive sectors. Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) rose 0.9 percent; Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) rose 2.6 percent.

The slight recovery "is not surprising given the sell-off yesterday," said Colin McLean, managing director at fund manager SVM in Edinburgh. "But there is still some nervousness."

Across Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE ended the day up 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC 40 .FCHI fell 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

Wall Street was lower around the time European bourses closed. The Dow Jones .DJI, S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq Composite .IXIC were down 0.3-0.7 percent.

The number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance in the United States rose in the latest week to its highest level in close to six months, a fresh signal of a weak jobs market. [ID:nN11227633]

CISCO FALLS

Also hitting sentiment, especially for technology shares, U.S. networking giant Cisco (CSCO.O) forecast revenue that was below Wall Street's targets. Cisco fell 9.8 percent.

German government bond (Bund) futures hit a record high and the 10-year Bund yield hit an all-time low after the downbeat U.S. jobless data. The yield spread between Spanish government debt and Bunds, the currency bloc's benchmark, widened.

"With company results out the way, the market is starting to look at the European sovereign debt position again - we have seen spreads widen. That could push European financials a bit further down," said SVM's McLean, adding equity valuations were attractive and fund managers' cash levels are high.

Analysts said the equity market will remain choppy this month with many people were away from trading desks.

"One of the issues at the moment is clearly the markets are relatively thin. It is holiday season so it is not taking a great deal to push prices around quite significantly," said Ian Richards, European equity strategist at RBS.

Among other shares, India-focused Miner Vedanta Resources (VED.L) fell 7.5 percent as analysts questioned the logic of its interest in buying a stake in oil company Cairn India (CAIL.BO).

On the economic front, figures showed euro zone industrial production declined marginally in June, falling short of forecasts and indicating the currency zone is struggling to make its economic recovery stick. [ID:nBRQ009940]

Greece's economy shrank more than expected in the second quarter and unemployment climbed to 12 percent, reflecting the pain of austerity measures agreed with lenders to overcome the country's financing crisis. [ID:nLDE67B17N] (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Dan Lalor)