LONDON, July 9 European stock markets were mixed
on Wednesday, regaining some poise after a drop in the previous
session, though disappointing trading updates from French
caterer Sodexo and U.K. insurer Admiral
The start of the second-quarter company reporting season
began more confidently in the United States where aluminium
company Alcoa soundly beat analyst expectations. The
slower pace of recovery in Europe, however, has put investors on
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has
slipped back over the last week after hitting a 6-1/2 year high
of 1,399.62 points in late June, edged down 0.1 percent to
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index,
meanwhile, was up 0.1 percent, recovering some ground after a
1.4 percent fall in the previous session.
The U.K. FTSE 100 index underperformed its European peers,
falling 0.4 percent after a trading update from insurer Admiral
said the company's six-month revenue had dropped to 1
billion pounds ($1.70 billion). The stock fell 5.5 percent.
Rival Aviva also fell after announcing new targets.
French catering, facilities management and vouchers group
Sodexo also saw its shares fall more than 3 percent
after it said its fourth quarter would be weaker than expected
due to the delayed start-up of some major contracts. The group
cut its full-year sales growth goal.
Sodexo's note of caution followed a profit warning from Air
France-KLM on Tuesday, and concerns about weak
corporate earnings have contributed to push back European equity
markets down from last month's multi-year highs.
"There are some worries that some company results may not be
as strong as expected," said Berkeley Futures associate director
There was more positive news from the U.S. market, however,
with aluminium company Alcoa beating analyst expectations
for its quarterly results.
Norway's Seadrill was also one of Europe's top
performers, jumping 4.9 percent after it canceled the sale of
fresh convertible bonds that had proven unpopular with
And data cited by the Financial Times suggested short
sellers had further scaled back overall bearish bets that stocks
will fall, with the amount of shares out on loan back to their
lowest level since the crisis.
Selected short bets, particularly those that depend on a
performance gap between two stocks, have made a comeback
however, with investors seeking different ways to pick apart the
multi-year stock rally in Europe.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Lionel Laurent)