April 19, 2018 / 7:36 AM / 3 months ago

Industrials lead the pack as earnings dominate European stocks trading

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LONDON, April 19 (Reuters) - Industrial and commodities-focused stocks made gains on Thursday as earnings and basic resource prices spurred them higher, while the main European indices declined, showing signs of fatigue after a two-day rally took them to six-week highs.

Earnings dominated trading, with Swiss industrial equipment maker ABB and French electric components firm Schneider the biggest boosts to the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

ABB rose 3.9 percent after reporting first-quarter profit that beat expectations, while Schneider’s profit beat sent its shares up 2 percent.

Another notable gainer was advertising group Publicis , rising 5.1 percent after first-quarter sales beat forecasts.

A surge in metals prices, after Russian sanctions sparked concerns over global supply, lifted the basic resources index up 0.3 percent, having soared 4.3 percent on Wednesday.

Finnish steel firm Outokumpu gained 4.3 percent, reflecting a rise in Japanese steelmakers overnight after a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump produced no bad news on tariffs.

Aluminium maker Norsk Hydro also rose 3 percent.

Overall the pan-European STOXX 600 held flat as a weaker healthcare sector outweighed gains in resources stocks.

Results from consumer giants Nestle and Unilever failed to inspire investors. Unilever declined 1.3 percent after reporting a first-quarter in line with expectations.

Nestle shares barely budged after the maker of Kit Kat chocolate confirmed its outlook and said volumes had picked up.

Merger and acquisition news spurred some big share price moves.

Weir Group shares jumped 6.2 percent to the top of the STOXX after the firm agreed to acquire U.S. mining tools maker ESCO for $1.05 billion.

In the struggling UK retail sector, department store group Debenhams saw its shares drop 10 percent after cutting its dividend and warning on its full-year outlook for the second time in four months. (Reporting by Helen Reid, editing by Danilo Masoni)

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