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European shares wobble as Brexit angst lingers


[LONDON] European shares wobbled and closed just in the red after a choppy session on Friday as traders waited to see if Britain's prime minister Theresa May would face a no-confidence vote over her draft European Union divorce deal.

The pan-European stocks index started morning trading on a gentle rebound from losses on Thursday. But it gradually lost steam as speculation mounted about a leadership challenge.

Italy's budget showdown with the European Commission also did little for risk appetite.

The STOXX 600 closed down 0.12 per cent and Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 per cent.

"Equities in general continue to trade in a sideways fashion, with attempts to move higher frustrated by a collection of worries", IG analyst Chris Beauchamp commented.

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French media company Vivendi's quarterly results helped to lift the media sector 0.55 per cent.

Vivendi shares topped the CAC 40, climbing 3 per cent after the company posted stronger than expected third-quarter sales, helped by growth in music streaming at its Universal Music Group (UMG). It also said it was lining up banks for a possible sale of part of the UMG division.

Deutsche Bank analysts said the fourth-quarter slate for Universal looks "strong" with releases announced for multiple platinum sellers and ongoing Drake and Eminem sales.

"With solid steps towards a stake sale in 2019, this is a timely reminder that valuations of over 20 billion euros for UMG are not hype," they wrote in a note to clients.

The technology sector lagged the market, down 0.7 per cent after worse than expected results from US chipmaker Nvidia, the latest in a run of negative news for tech components producers.

German semiconductor maker Siltronic slid 3 per cent, among the biggest STOXX fallers.

Dutch lender ABN AMRO also fell 2 per cent after its results.

ABB shares were up 1.5 per cent after sources said the Swiss industrials group is in talks with three Asian suitors for the sale of its Power Grids business.

Swedish electrical components company Nibe jumped 5.7 per cent, the top STOXX gainer, after its results.

Outside large-cap stocks, Danish industrial component maker NKT plunged 22.7 per cent after it cut its full-year earnings outlook and CEO Michael Hedegaard left the company.

Shares in the maker of the "Angry Birds" mobile game, Rovio Entertainment, jumped 12.4 per cent after third-quarter results.

Fewer companies than usual have beaten expectations in Europe's third-quarter results season, with companies facing difficulties converting sales into profits as costs climbed.

IBES Refinitiv showed analysts expect third-quarter earnings to grow 15.8 per cent year on year in euro terms, and 2019 European earnings to edge higher than the United States.


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