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Europe: Stocks up for 8th session as oil surge boosts energy stocks

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[BENGALURU] Energy stocks boosted by a steady surge in oil prices, and a higher open on Wall Street helped European shares erase session losses and close higher on Tuesday, but a sell-off in banks and auto stocks kept gains in check.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.23 per cent, touching August highs and extending gains to an eighth straight session - its longest winning streak since October 2017. It had fallen as much as 0.3 per cent in the session.

Energy-heavy London's FTSE 100 led gains in the region, up 0.9 per cent at a more than six-month high, while Germany's DAX and France's CAC40 rebounded to close higher. Wall Street's rise on upbeat earnings bolstered sentiment, helping them retrace losses.

Italy's MIB slipped nearly 0.3 per cent, while Spain's IBEX lost 0.6 per cent as banks weighed ahead of earnings.

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The oil and gas sector hit a six-month high, up 2 per cent, with Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum and Total, up between 1.8 per cent and 2.6 per cent.

Oil prices hit their highest since November after Washington announced all Iran sanction waivers would end by May, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.

Surging oil prices, however, took a toll on airline stocks. Air France, EasyJet plc, Lufthansa and Ryanair , all shed between 2 per cent and 6 per cent.

Getinge was the top performer on the Stoxx 600 after the Swedish medical technology company beat first quarter sales estimates and said restructuring measures will boost profit in the second half of the year.

Plane maker Airbus' shares hit an all-time high with a management shake-up spreading to its space unit. Rival Boeing is set to report results on Wednesday, while other auto manufacturers such as United Technologies and Lockheed Martin reported solid profits.

Nestle was the biggest boost to the Stoxx 600 benchmark, up 1.4 per cent. Credit Suisse raised the food group's price target by 5 Swiss francs.

Gains on the Stoxx 600 were tempered, however, as earnings started to roll in on a not-so-positive note with Umicore tumbling over 17 per cent, after the Belgian group warned revenue and earnings growth in 2020 will be lower than previous indications.

Umicore's slide weighed heavily on Belgium's blue chip Bel 20 Index, pulling it 1.2 per cent lower to post its biggest one-day drop in a month.

Banks and auto stocks weighed the most on the pan-region index.

The banking index broke a six-day winning run with major European banks as UBS, Credit Suisse and Barclays slated to report earnings late this week following last week's mixed bag of results from big Wall Street banks.

"Weakness in banks seems earnings related. It's symbolic of the kind of (growth) between Europe and the US at the moment. Because we've seen the likes of record profits from JP Morgan, but nothing close in Europe," said Jasper Lawler, head of research at LCG in London.

Banco Santander's, BBVA and BNP Paribas were among the biggest drags on the Stoxx 600.

Renault fell 1.4 per cent after Nissan Motor Co Ltd said it would reject a management integration proposal from its French partner and called for an equal capital relationship, according to a Nikkei report.

Ahold Delhaize slid after the Dutch supermarket warned that a strike at its Stop & Shop chain in US would hurt its underlying 2019 profit margin, as it missed out on around US$200 million on Easter week sales.

Car part suppliers Plastic Omnium and Faurecia also reported first-quarter results. Plastic Omnium slid after warning of a decline in worldwide auto production, but Faurecia rose 1.5 per cent after the company met its full-year target.

REUTERS