* FTSEurofirst 300 index flat in late trading
* Results from Credit Agricole, Henkel support
* Fiat slips on scepticism over a new business plan
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, May 7 European equities steadied in late
trading on Wednesday, with a sharp decline in Fiat shares over
scepticism about its new business plan offset by some positive
Fiat Chrysler fell 10 percent, the biggest faller
on the FTSEurofirst 300, as investors remained
unconvinced about a plan to boost sales by 60 percent by 2018
and almost wipe out its debt, analysts said.
Experian, the world's biggest credit data company,
fell 6 percent, despite reporting an 8 percent increase in
annual earnings, as its Chief Executive Don Robert said growth
in the first half could be constrained.
However, share declines recorded by some major companies
were offset by gains posted by elsewhere following the release
of their first quarter earnings reports.
Credit Agricole, France's third-biggest listed
bank, rose 6.9 percent to top the FTSEurofirst 300
leader board after reporting a 30 percent rise in quarterly net
Germany's Henkel was up 5.2 percent after
beating expectations with results, while Coloplast
gained 4.9 percent after surpassing forecasts and raising its
"European earnings have not been as good as U.S. company
results in the first quarter, but their medium- to longer-term
outlook is positive," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP
Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.
"European earnings will improve going forward as a lot of
companies have cut costs and are now lean and mean, which means
that their earnings will improve with an economic recovery."
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was flat
at 1,342.72 points by 1502 GMT GMT after falling earlier to
1,337.75, the lowest since late April.
The market's recovery in the late session was helped by news
that Russian President Vladimir Putin had called on pro-Moscow
separatists in Ukraine to postpone a vote on secession just five
days before it was to be held, potentially pulling Ukraine back
from the brink of dismemberment.
"While the Ukrainian crisis has forced many investors and
traders to rethink their short to mid-term investment strategy,
with some of them putting their stock buying plans on hold for
now, very few at this stage see the need to actually liquidate
their portfolios in a major way," Markus Huber, senior sales
trader at Peregrine & Black, said.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing Jeremy Gaunt)