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Europe: Stocks score strong monthly gain


[LONDON] European stock markets fell Friday afternoon as many investors cashed in gains after a bumper month for equities and digested uninspiring company results, dealers said.

London gained almost five percent in value over the month, Paris nearly 10 per cent and Frankfurt more than 12 per cent, lifted by optimism despite China's economic slowdown.

Markets charged ahead on expectations that a US interest rate hike would be delayed - at least until the Federal Reserve hinted Wednesday at an increase in December, causing fresh jitters.

Traders also weighed news that eurozone inflation rose to zero percent and out of negative territory in October, as the European Central Bank (ECB) mulls adding fresh stimulus.

"Early gains slipped away by the afternoon in Europe as investors booked gains at the end of a strong month for global equities," said Jasper Lawler at CMC Markets UK.

In London, the British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index of blue-chip companies ended the day down 0.54 per cent to 6,361.09 points.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 rose 0.46 per cent to 10,850.14 points and the Paris CAC 40 added 0.24 per cent to 4,897.66.

Markus Huber at London-based broker Peregrine & Black said it was understandable that there was a bit of profit-taking at the end of a very good month for stocks.

"This is rather normal ... that money is being taken off the table," he told AFP, adding the cash would likely "flow back into stocks within the next few days of the new month."

Mr Huber also noted that investors snapped up bargain stocks in October to capitalise on the "massive" summer sell-off that was rooted in worries over China's faltering economy.


On Friday, London's top faller was International Airlines Group, whose share price sank 2.51 per cent to 582.5 pence as earnings guidance disappointed investors.

However, IAG also posted a third-quarter operating profit of 1.21 billion euros, beating analysts' forecasts of 1.19 billion euros.

"Despite beating third-quarter earnings expectations, IAG shares tanked," said CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.

"The rise in full year earnings guidance was a bit conservative so it raises a question over the timing of introducing the dividend." Royal Bank of Scotland meanwhile saw its share price slide 0.97 per cent.

The state-rescued lender revealed that pre-tax profit before exceptional items and restructuring costs more than halved to £842 million. That missed expectations for a profit of £988 million.

In Paris, Airbus shares rose 4.40 per cent to 63.36 euros after the European aircraft maker posted sharply higher profits, adding it will ramp up production of its best-selling A320 jet.

The biggest faller was L'Oreal, whose share price dived 4.57 per cent to 166.05 euros, one day after the world's largest cosmetics company posted underwhelming third-quarter sales.

Wall Street marked time despite oil giant Chevron and beer titan AB Inbev beating earnings forecasts.

The Dow Jones Industrial index added 0.14 per cent to stand at 17,780.86 points in early afternoon trading.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.13 per cent to 2,092.19 points while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.11 per cent to 5,079.78.

Chevron gained 1.5 per cent as core earnings per share came in above analyst forecasts despite an overall 63.6 per cent plunge in earnings due to falling oil prices.

Anheuser-Busch Inbev, poised to take over rival SABMiller in a mega-merger, was up 1.8 per cent in New York trading as it said operating profit rose by 9.6 per cent in the third quarter to US$4.4 billion.

The European single currency meanwhile advanced to US$1.1022, up from US$1.0979 Thursday in New York.

The shared eurozone unit had plunged on Wednesday in the wake of the Fed news to US$1.0897 - a level last seen in early August.

Asian equities mostly fell in subdued deals on Friday after the Bank of Japan held off fresh stimulus despite shrinking growth in the world's number three economy.

Hong Kong finished 0.79 per cent lower while Sydney, Seoul, Wellington and Taiwan all finished in the red. However, Tokyo stocks ended 0.78 per cent higher.