* STOXX 600 index closes up 0.3 percent
* STOXX 600 still down 6 pct in 2016
* Edenred gains after strategic plan
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By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Oct 19 European stocks rose on Wednesday
as gains in the shares of major banks and retail companies
offset weaker earnings elsewhere in the market.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3 percent,
although the index remains down by about 6 percent since the
start of 2016.
The European bank index got a lift to stand 0.9
percent higher after Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley reported
better-than-forecast profits on Wednesday.
"Morgan Stanley's results have generally been a positive for
the banking sector across the board," said Hantec Markets'
analyst Richard Perry.
Nevertheless, the European bank index is still down by about
20 percent since the start of the year due to concerns over bad
debts at Italian banks, while Deutsche Bank also hit
record lows last month.
The STOXX Europe 600 Retail index also outperformed
to rise by 1.5 percent.
French supermarket retailer Carrefour rose after
reporting higher sales while shares in online fashion retailer
Zalando also advanced after it posted an improvement
in its quarterly profitability.
French vouchers company Edenred also surged after
investors welcomed its new strategy plan.
However, shares in building materials supplier Travis
Perkins and consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser
both fell, with Travis Perkins issuing a profit warning
while Reckitt Benckiser reported weaker-than-forecast sales.
Patrick Moonen, senior multi-asset strategist at NN
Investment Partners, said investors were turning increasingly
cautious, given uncertainty over Britain's exit from the
European Union and lingering concerns about the euro zone
"Markets are currently facing several headwinds, with a
number of different geopolitical tensions affecting investors'
confidence for the future," Moonen said.
(Additional reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Keith Weir and