LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher in early trading on Friday after losses in the previous session, although disappointing earnings and profit warnings from some major companies made the market vulnerable to profit-taking.
A day after disappointing results from U.S. major companies like Intel, Goldman Sachs and Citi on Thursday, oil major Royal Dutch Shell said its fourth-quarter figures were expected to be significantly lower than recent levels of profitability.
Shell shares fell 3.6 percent, pushing the European oil and gas index 1.3 lower. Energy shares were the biggest sectoral decliners in Europe.
"The news from Shell clearly will not help confidence. While investors have been aware of the group's challenges, the degree and range of difficulties provide growing concern for a core market investment," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
Investors' focus has shifted to General Electric and Morgan Stanley, which are due to release their earnings later in the day. They will also scrutinise U.S. data on housing starts, industrial output and University of Michigan's consumer sentiment. In the UK, focus will be on retail sales data.
At 0810 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2 percent at 1,340.48 points. It closed 0.2 percent lower in the previous session, having climbed 1 percent to a 5-1/2-year high on Wednesday.