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Europe: Shares lifted by solid earnings but RBS slumps

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[MILAN] European shares rose on Friday, helped by solid earnings from companies including cement making group LafargeHolcim, but Royal Bank of Scotland slumped after weak results.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended up 1.1 per cent, extending gains after better-than-expected US jobs data, although the index posted its first week of declines in four.

LafargeHolcim rose 5 per cent after it reaffirmed its guidance and beat quarterly profit forecasts.

"LafargeHolcim results were, for once, a positive surprise, supported by the recent recovery in the important markets of India and Mexico as well as some European countries," Baader Helvea analysts said.

Hugo Boss jumped 7.4 per cent after the German fashion house beat forecasts for quarterly operating profit and new CEO Mark Langer said he would close about 20 more stores as a cost-cutting drive appears to be paying off.

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Europe's Stoxx 600 bank sector index rose 2.2 per cent, clawing back some ground following a slump at the start of the week after industry stress tests fuelled new concerns over banks' capital levels when the industry is struggling to grow with ultra-low interest rates.

Mediobanca rose 8.8 per cent after the Italian investment bank proposed a higher dividend and posted net profits that beat expectations.

However, Royal Bank of Scotland fell 7.2 per cent as it reported widening first-half losses and scrapped plans to turn its Williams & Glyn unit into a standalone bank, as Britain faces a period of economic instability caused by its vote to leave the European Union.

"The outlook statement is notably cautious, reflecting increased uncertainty following the outcome of the EU referendum and lower for longer interest rate environment," Shore Capital analyst Gary Greenwood said.

"Despite the stock trading at a significant discount to book value, it is hard for us to retain a positive stance," he said, placing his buy recommendation under review.

Monte dei Paschi, which fared the worst in the stress tests, continued to face concerns over a rescue plan for the company. Its shares touched a record low and fell 1.6 per cent.

Novo Nordisk also slumped 10 per cent after the Danish drugmaker cut its forecast for full-year profit growth and warned of pressure on prices from tough competition in the United States next year.

The Stoxx 600 index fell 0.2 per cent over the course of the week and is down 7 per cent so far in 2016.


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