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Europe: Shares get tech boost as SAP and ASML surge on results

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[LONDON] European shares advanced on Wednesday, with the technology sector leading the market higher after SAP and ASML reported forecast-beating quarterly results.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index and the similar FTSEurofirst 300 index both ended one per cent higher, although they are down by 7 per cent and 6 per cent respectively so far in 2016.

Shares in SAP, Europe's largest software company, surged 5.7 per cent as unexpectedly strong growth in high-margin packaged software licenses fuelled its quarterly earnings. Its second-quarter operating profit rose 9 per cent.

ASML, a key supplier to semiconductor makers, also advanced 3 per cent after better-than-expected quarterly profits.

"So far, European earnings have been better than expected, with investors focusing on company guidance to form a view on the market's likely direction," said Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich.

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"The market is definitely getting some boost, at least today, from some strong results from companies like SAP, with the technology sector leading the market higher."

The STOXX Europe 600 Technology index rose 3.2 per cent, the top sectoral gainer.

It has surged nearly 10 per cent since the start of last week, mainly due to a rally in ARM Holdings this week.

ARM spiked 41 per cent on Monday after Japan's SoftBank agreed to buy Britain's most valuable technology company for US$32 billion in cash.

The sector also got some support after Microsoft reported on Tuesday a 2.1 per cent rise in quarterly adjusted revenue as growth in its cloud business helped to offset weakness in the personal computer market.

However, the progress of the broader market was hindered by a drop in the shares of mining companies.

Anglo American slid 4.8 per cent after lowering its full-year guidance, while BHP Billiton dropped 2.3 per cent after it fell 3 million tonnes short of its iron ore production guidance for fiscal 2016.

Shares in Swedish polymers company Hexpol also slumped 11.9 per cent after Hexpol's profits missed market forecasts.

Some investors remained cautious on the prospects for markets, given the uncertainty from last month's British vote to leave the European Union, with Columbia Threadneedle Investments cutting its equity exposure to "neutral" from "overweight" for the first time in five years.


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