August 5, 2016 / 9:23 AM / 3 years ago

European shares rise after solid earnings updates, RBS slumps

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* STOXX 600 up 0.4 percent, set for weekly loss

* Well-received updates lift LafargeHolcim, Hugo Boss

* RBS slumps in positive bank sector after losses widen

* Novo Nordisk slumps after guidance cut

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, Aug 5 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday, helped by solid earnings updates from companies including cement maker LafargeHolcim, but Royal Bank of Scotland slumped in an otherwise mostly positive banking sector after reporting wider losses in the first half.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4 percent by 0830 GMT but remains on track for its first week of declines in four, weighed down by heavy losses among bank stocks earlier in the week following the release of Europe-wide stress tests.

Britain’s FTSE 100 touched a fresh year-high after the Bank of England cut rates for the first time since 2009 on Thursday and surprised markets by starting a bond purchase programme.

LafargeHolcim rose 5.8 percent as it reaffirmed its guidance and beat quarterly profit forecasts thanks to higher selling prices and efficiency savings.

“LafargeHolcim results were for once a positive surprise, supported by the recent recovery in the important markets India and Mexico as well as some European countries,” Baader Helvea said, adding there was some upside in consensus expectations.

Well-received earnings updates also boosted shares in DSV and Evonik, both among the top gainers in Europe with a rise of 3.1 and 4 percent respectively.

Hugo Boss rose 6.8 percent after the German fashion house beat forecasts for quarterly operating profit and new CEO Mark Langer said he would close around 20 more stores as a cost cutting drive appears to be bearing fruit.

Europe’s STOXX 600 Bank sector index rose 1 percent, on track for its third day of gains. The index slumped on Monday and Tuesday as the stress tests fuelled fresh concerns over banks’ capital levels at a time when the industry is struggling to grow with ultra low interest rates.

Mediobanca rose 6 percent after the Italian investment bank proposed a higher dividend and its full-year net profit beat expectations and revenues hit record highs.

However, Royal Bank of Scotland fell 4.5 percent as it reported widening first-half losses and has scrapped plans to turn its Williams & Glyn unit into a stand alone bank, as Britain faces a period of economic instability caused by its vote to leave the European Union.

“The outlook statement is notably cautious, reflecting increased uncertainty following the outcome of the EU referendum and lower for longer interest rate environment,” Shore Capital analyst Gary Greenwood said.

“Despite the stock trading at a significant discount to book value, it is hard for us to retain a positive stance,” he added, placing his buy recommendation under review.

Monte dei Paschi, which fared the worst in the stress tests, continued to be under pressure amid concerns the bank will be able to execute a rescue plan. Its shares fell more than 1 percent to a fresh record low.

Another heavy faller was Novo Nordisk. Its shares dropped 8.4 percent after the Danish drug maker cut its forecast for full-year profit growth and said it expected tough competition in the United States to pressure prices next year. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni)

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