* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct
* Geopolitical concern weighs on stocks
* No panic in market as hopes rise for de-escalation
* Ericsson surges after earnings to provide support
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, July 18 European stocks fell on
Friday, extending losses made late in the previous session after
a passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine, stoking
tensions between Russia and the West.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down by
0.3 percent at 1,356.36 by 0748 GMT but was off an intraday low
hit in early morning trade.
"People in the market are still worried that there will be
an escalation in the conflict (following the plane crash)," said
Markus Huber, senior sales trader at Peregrine & Black.
"But it's so serious that maybe people will pull back from
the conflict now."
The European index had ended Thursday 1 percent lower,
following a late sell-off sparked by reports that the Malaysian
airliner had been shot down, killing all 298 people on board.
U.S. and Asian stocks slumped overnight while safe-haven
gold and bond prices rose after the disaster and as Israel began
its ground offensive in Gaza.
Wall Street had its worst day since April.
Broad-based falls on Friday saw all but two sectors on the
STOXX Europe 600 in negative territory.
The airliner crash could intensify international pressure to
resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since
protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February
and Russia annexed the Crimea a month later.
But uncertainty over how the incident will affect the
conflict between the Ukrainian government and separatists could
mean investors are reluctant to hold long positions over the
weekend in case the situation deteriorates.
"While the market response to the unfortunate air incident
was not as bad as many might have expected, with this being
week-end and geopolitical risk such an unknown quantity, be
prepared for some risk aversion," Mike van Dulken, head of
research at Accendo Markets, said in a note.
Losses were mitigated by a number of expectation-beating
profit reports, with Sweden's Ericsson, home
appliances firm Electrolux and Swedbank
all reporting results that beat consensus estimates.
Mobile telecom gear maker Ericsson rose 9
percent, the top FTSEurofirst 300 riser, after sales picked up
at its key networks unit thanks to growth in the Middle East,
China, the United States and India.
With 12 percent of companies in the DJ Stoxx 600
having reported results so far this earnings season, 73 percent
have beaten or met expectations, according to Thomson Reuters
"The market is so politically driven at the moment, which is
bad news as it means we neglect fundamentals such as earnings,"
Global truck maker Volvo was the top faller, down
4.5 percent after posting a smaller than expected rise in profit
after a slow rebound in demand in Europe left it with
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by Catherine Evans)