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Europe: Stocks fall on weak earnings

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[NEW YORK] European stocks were under pressure on Thursday following disappointing earnings reports, while Japanese stocks faltered ahead of a key central bank policy announcement.

In Frankfurt, Volkswagen shares retreated after costs related to its 2015 diesel emissions cheating scandal hit quarterly earnings.

In Paris, Carrefour shares dropped sharply following disappointing results due to low fuel prices, currency fluctuations and restructuring costs.

London-listed Lloyds Banking Group fell as it announced it will axe another 3,000 jobs by 2017, partly due to the low interest rate environment, while Royal Dutch Shell fell on a profit collapse due to weak oil prices and refining margins.

The weak reports underscored worries about slow growth in Europe, especially after Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

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Paris fell 0.6 per cent, while Frankfurt and London both shed 0.4 per cent.

US markets finished mostly higher, with tech titan Facebook rallying on a 186 per cent rise in second quarter profit to US$2.05 billion due to growing online advertising revenues.

Shares of Amgen and MasterCard also rose following earnings reports, offsetting declines from Ford after it warned of lower profits due to a cooling of the hot US auto market.

US stocks remain near all-time highs. Sixty-eight percent of S&P 500 companies to report earnings so far have bested expectations, said S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"The majority of earnings reports are better than expected," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

"Certainly there are some disappointments, but for the most part, they are better than estimates."

Tokyo led most Asian markets lower, with the Nikkei sliding 1.1 per cent on worries over the size of the Bank of Japan's expected stimulus announcement due Friday.

Among the options, the BoJ could expand its mammoth asset buying plan or cut interest rates further into negative territory in a bid to stir lending and stoke the wider economy.

The Nikkei had risen 1.7 per cent on Wednesday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a 28 trillion yen (S$360 billion) fiscal stimulus programme without offering details.

However, Japanese markets have swung in recent days as speculation has shifted about the size of the stimulus programme.


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