European Shares End Off Lows After US GDP

European shares eked out small gains on Friday after better-than-expected U.S. economic growth figures helped outweigh the impact on investor sentiment of yet more gloomy corporate outlooks.

Major European Indexes


The FTSEurofirst 300 eked out a small gain, after a choppy session that had initially been weighed by fresh concerns over the outlook for regional corporates.

Ericsson, Renault, Saint Gobain and Publicis were among those reporting weak numbers or cutting outlooks in Europe.

These numbers came in the aftermath of disappointing earnings from global giants Apple and Amazon overnight.

The mood brightened somewhat in the afternoon, however, after data showed growth in the United States expanded at a 2 percent annual rate, just above the 1.9 percent estimate of analysts polled by Reuters.

"I don't think it's going to be a sustained rally. I just think there are too many question marks in terms of the earnings," Yusuf Heusen, a sales trader at IG, said.

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil fell after the company reported third-quarter earnings on Friday that were below expectations.

France-based advertising company Publicis also reported third-quarter earnings showing a slowdown.

Shares in mobile network firm Ericsson tumbled after its third-quarter earnings report showed shrinking profit margins.

In the euro zone, officials said on Thursday that Greece would need another 30 billion euros ($39 billion) to make up for its deep recession and delay in hitting deficit targets, according to Reuters. The extra funds would mean Greece's debt load would still be at around 140 percent of yearly economic output by 2020, according to two European officials, far above the 120 percent that was deemed sustainable when the country's second bailout package was agreed in February.

The International Monetary Fund also warned late on Thursday that risks to Portugal's bailout plan have "increased markedly" due to lower tax revenues, increasing anti-austerity protests and the likelihood that it will remain in recession in 2013.

In a review of Portugal's 78 billion euro bailout, the IMF said: "The risks to the macroeconomic outlook and fiscal targets are significant and tilted to the downside."

In stocks news, ratings agency Standard & Poors lowered its view on French banks late on Thursday. It downgraded BNP Paribas, the country's biggest bank, and changed the outlook to negative for 10 other French banks, including Société Générale and Crédit Agricole.

Stock in mining company Anglo American traded higher on Friday following news that Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll had decided to step down from her post with the board's agreement.

Banco Popolare released third-quarter earnings showing net profit fell 23 percent; shares were down 4.42 percent.