Tech mars another week of gains for European shares

Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:43pm EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 ends flat

* Tech sector weighs after disappointing U.S. earnings

* Electrolux surges on outlook upgrade

* Pharma falls as China widens investigation

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) - European shares chalked up a fourth straight week of gains but ended flat on Friday, dampened by fresh weakness in the technology sector as a mixed earnings season on both sides of the Atlantic intensified.

The European tech sector fell 0.7 percent on the day, making it the worst-performing sector after software firm Microsoft and Internet giant Google both posted weak numbers.

That weighed on chip maker ARM, down 2.6 percent, ahead of its results next Wednesday, while software firm SAP dropped 2.3 percent after several analysts cut targets on the stock in light of its recent results.

SAP was the worst-performing stock on the German DAX , which closed down 0.1 percent.

By the close, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.01 percent at 1,209.00, although up 1.1 percent on the week.

It has bounced 8.8 percent from its June low as the U.S. Federal Reserve sought to dispel anxiety that the withdrawal of stimulus would come too soon, a message that was reiterated this week by Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"For Google, their model for making money is getting to maturity, so they're getting hit, and all the tech stocks are a bit lower on that," Lucas Roux de Luze, sales trader at TJM Partners, said.

"More generally, the sentiment of the market is that after a great run on the back of Bernanke's comments and decent earnings, we're consolidating a little bit."

A strong start to the European results season has been tempered by earnings disappointments towards the end of the week, with Vopak sharply lower, down 5 percent, after the oil and chemical storage firm was forced to cut its full-year outlook.

So far, 53 percent of companies on the STOXX Europe 600 that have reported have beaten or met expectations, compared to 73 percent on the U.S. S&P 500, Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed. However, Electrolux jumped 5.3 percent after posting in-line results and raising its outlook.

"Corporate earnings are quite mixed, so we don't have a clear direction on that front," Myrto Sokou, analyst at Sucden Financial, said.

"We might see a phase of consolidation, with equity markets trading sideways for next week."

Along with tech firms, pharmaceuticals also suffered, down 0.7 percent and led lower by Belgium's UCB . It fell 2.3 percent after saying it had been visited by Chinese authorities investigating bribery allegations already made against British heavyweight GlaxoSmithKline.

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