European shares steadied on Friday at the end of a strong week with a bounce in banking stocks and some solid earnings updates underpinning the market.
By 0906 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 had risen 0.02 per cent to 1,294 points. The index is up 5 per cent so far this week and set for its best five days since January 2015, buoyed by a recovery in the price of oil from record lows.But oil prices resumed their slide on Friday as a record build-up in US crude stocks stoked worries about global oversupply, outweighing moves by oil producers to cap oil output.
"At this stage ... it is still unclear if the current up-move has run its course or if this is merely a 'normal' and much needed consolidation before the next leg higher," said Markus Huber, trader at City of London Markets. "Overall sentiment remains neutral to positive with range-trading likely for the first part of the day."
Banking stocks were the top sectoral gainer with a gain of 0.8 per cent. Valeo led the FTSEurofirst, up 4 per cent, after the French car parts maker posted a 30 per cent rise in full-year net profit and proposed hiking its dividend by 36 per cent.
Kering added 2.3 per cent as its Italian luxury brand Gucci reported a forecast-beating rebound in sales in the fourth quarter under its new designer and chief executive, helped by solid growth in Western Europe and Japan.British insurer and asset manager Standard Life rose 1.5 per cent after posting an above-forecast, pre-tax operating profit of 665 million pounds ($952.15 million).
However, Allianz fell 2.8 per cent after the German insurer missed profit and dividend expectations and unveiled a 2016 operating profit target in line with analysts' predictions.
Baader Bank Helvea analyst Daniel Bischof affirmed his hold rating on the stock, noting how net income missed forecasts due to a goodwill impairment on its life business in Asia.Italian broadcaster Mediaset rose 5 per cent after local media reported that French media group Vivendi had been discussing an acquisition of its pay-TV business.
Mediaset said it was not in talks with Vivendi over a sale. Today's European research round-up.