European shares flat after mixed results, payrolls eyed

Tuesday, 22 Oct 2013 | 3:21 AM ET

LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) - European shares held close to a five-year high on Tuesday, with mixed earnings providing little direction in cautious trade before U.S. jobs data.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst was down 0.44 points, or flat in percent terms, at 1,280.76. The five-year high struck on Monday followed eight days of gains.

Deutsche Lufthansa fell 3.8 percent, the top FTSEurofirst 300 faller, after it said operating profit for the first nine months of the year fell to about 660 million euros from 907 million in the year-earlier period.

However, Novartis, the fifth biggest company on the STOXX Europe 600 by market capitalisation, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, rose 0.6 percent after lifting its full-year guidance for a second quarter in a row.

"Earnings in Europe have started out badly and can only get worse; the question is how much people are willing to discount weak earnings," said Nick Xanders, who heads up European equity strategy at BTIG.

"Novartis is a different kettle of fish, because it can see what's going on next quarter and it looks fairly decent."

Of the 8 percent of companies to report so far on the STOXX 600, 41 percent have missed expectations, compared with 33 percent on the S&P 500, StarMine data showed.

The top riser was Norwegian insurer Gjensidige, up 9 percent after it set higher financial targets as it reported forecast-beating third-quarter earnings.

September U.S. jobs data, delayed by a partial shutdown of the U.S. government, is due at 1230 GMT.

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