February 13, 2013 / 1:26 PM / 5 years ago

European shares drift higher, SocGen drops

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.3 pct

* Euro STOXX 50 capped by retracement level

* Data shows Europe earnings lag U.S. results

* Peugeot surges 6 pct in short covering rally

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - European shares climbed for the second day running in choppy trade on Wednesday, although a batch of mixed corporate results limited the gains.

French bank Societe Generale dropped 4 percent after unveiling a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, while Dutch brewer Heineken rallied 5.1 percent, propelled by forecast-beating results.

At 1312 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,163.34 points.

“We’re in a paradox, European indexes have been in a technical rebound which remains very fragile, while at the same time, U.S. indexes are hitting multi-year highs,” FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron said.

“It’s tough to see a clear trend here, at least until we get some macro data, but broadly speaking I wouldn’t be surprised to see European stocks sliding a bit more.”

After a brisk rally sparked in mid-November, European shares started to retreat in late January, as the return of fears about political risks in Southern Europe as well as a batch of lower-than-expected corporate results and earnings forecasts dented investors’ appetite for equities.

About 40 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have reported results so far in the earnings season, of which only 49 percent have met or beaten forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters data.

It’s a stark contrast with Wall Street, where 69 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported results, of which 77 percent of companies have met or beaten consensus.

“We’re in a lull right now, we’ve ran out of positive catalysts and the great rotation out of fixed income and into equities hasn’t really started,” said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities.

“I’ve stopped buying stocks for now, although I’m getting ready to buy call spreads to capture the rise when the market resumes its rally.”

To play a call spread, an investor buys call options at a specific strike price while also selling the same number of calls at a higher strike price, a way to capture a potential rise in the market without directly buying shares.

Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX index up 0.6 percent, and France’s CAC 40 up 0.3 percent.


The euro zone’s blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.3 percent at 2,657.02 points, but it failed to break above a resistance level at 2,657.58 points representing the 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of the pull-back started in late January.

“The fact that it can’t break above the level means that the rebound started last week is just technical, it’s not a strong move on the upside that could bring the index back to its 2013 high,” said Aurel BGC analyst Gerard Sagnier, who looks at technical analysis of charts as a way to predict future trends.

Shares in PSA Peugeot Citroen surged 5.8 percent, as traders said the absence of a big negative surprise in the troubled carmaker’s results prompted short sellers to cover their bets.

Peugeot, one of the most shorted stocks across Europe with 17 percent of its shares out on loan, recorded a 5 billion-euro loss for 2012 and pledged 900 million in new cuts for 2013.

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