* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.05 pct
* Data shows Europe earnings lag U.S. results
* Buy call spreads, Global Equities's Thebault says
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Feb 13 European shares were flat on
Wednesday morning, hovering below the top of a six-day trading
range, with investors buffeted by a raft of mixed corporate
French bank Societe Generale dropped 3.4 percent
after unveiling a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, while
Dutch brewer Heineken rallied 3 percent, propelled by
At 0932 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was flat at 1,161.58 points, less than two
points below an intraday high of 1,162.77 points hit last week.
The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index
was up 0.05 percent at 2,649.97 points. The index has lost
ground since hitting an 18-month high in late January, dragged
by the return of worries over political risks in Southern Europe
as well as by a batch of lower-than-expected corporate results
"What's worrying for the market is the gap between
relatively good earnings in the United States, and the poor
results seen in Europe so far, with quite a number of nasty
surprises," a Paris-based trader said.
About 40 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have
reported results so far in the earnings season, of which only 49
percent have met or beaten forecasts, according to Thomson
It's a stark contrast with Wall Street, where 69 percent of
S&P 500 companies have reported results, of which 77
percent of companies have met or beaten consensus.
Shares in PSA Peugeot Citroen were up 3 percent on
Wednesday, as traders said the absence of big negative surprise
in troubled carmaker's results prompted short sellers to cover
Peugeot, one of the most shorted stocks across Europe with
17 percent of its shares out on loan, recorded a 5 billion-euro
loss for 2012 and pledged 900 million in new cuts for 2013.
Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was down 0.2
percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.2 percent, and
France's CAC 40 down 0.04 percent.
"We're in a lull right now, we've ran out of positive
catalysts and the great rotation out of fixed income and into
equities hasn't really started," said David Thebault, head of
quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities.
"I've stopped buying stocks for now, although I'm getting
ready to buy call spreads to capture the rise when the market
resumes its rally."
To play a call spread, an investor buys call options at a
specific strike price while also selling the same number of
calls at a higher strike price, a way to capture a potential
rise in the market without directly buying shares.