U.S. Markets

European shares pull away from two-year high, earnings updates disappoint

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares pulled back from two-year highs on Tuesday as heavyweight defensive sectors dropped and some earnings reports disappointed, though oil stocks were a bright spot.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX index reversed earlier gains to end the session 0.5 percent lower, after trading at its highest level since August 2015 over the past few days.

The DAX ended the session down 0.7 percent after hitting a new high.

“When you consider how much ground the FTSE 100, DAX and CAC have made in the past couple of months, a pullback of this size isn’t anything (out) of the ordinary,” David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said in a note.

Falls among health stocks .SXDP and large consumer staples such as Nestle NESN.S and AB Inbev ABI.BR weighed most. These sectors are sensitive to movements in the dollar, which rose.

A number of disappointing earnings updates also put a dampener on sentiment.

BMW BMWG.DE fell 2.8 percent after its third-quarter earnings fell 5.9 percent, near the low-end forecast in a Reuters poll, due to upfront costs for new technologies and models.

Chipmaker Dialog Semiconductor DLGS.DE dropped 5.7 percent following a cautious outlook for the fourth quarter.

Also under pressure after their updates were shares in Danish shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk MAERSKb.CO, Siemens Gamesa SGREN.MC and London-listed security group G4S GFS.L, all down between 4.7 and 7.1 percent.

However, German lighting maker Osram OSRn.DE saw its shares reverse losses to end 5.7 percent higher, the top STOXX gainer, after the market looked beyond the firm's modest 2018 forecast to its plans for future growth.

Imperial Brands IMB.L also nudged 0.5 percent higher. The company reported full-year sales roughly in line with expectations, helped by an improvement in the second half, and announced it would expand its efforts in the vaping market.

In spite of Tuesday’s disappointing updates the earnings season in Europe is progressing well with more than 60 percent of MSCI Europe companies having already reported results.

According to Thomson Reuters IBES data, 56 percent of them have beaten analyst expectations and 9 percent were in line.

Enrico Vaccari, fund manager at Consultinvest, said he was upbeat on prospects for European equities because of a strong economic recovery, a favourable monetary policy outlook and a weaker euro.

“It’s hard to find any negative news. Historically the period between November and March has been favorable for stocks and barring surprises 2017 will be a year to remember,” he said.

The STOXX 600 is up 9.2 percent so far this year, while the DAX is up 16.5 percent.

Reporting by Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Richard Balmforth