European Stocks Rise as Strong Earnings Counter Asian Volatility

LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets had a good start Thursday with a raft of earnings announcements in London and elsewhere and despite the volatility in Asia.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.61% at 6,671.46, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was up 0.55% at 5,045.24. In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.45% at 11,261.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was the biggest riser in early trading the London market this morning, rising over 3%, but then lost its place to Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) and other more exciting stocks. RBS declared an unexpectedly strong 27% increase in attributable profit to £293 million ($457.6 million), and announced that it had made a further share sale of Citizens Bank in the U.S. on yesterday, and expects to reduce its holding to just 20.9% of Citizens' stock over the next month or so.

But RBS also admitted that it had made a first-half loss of £153 million ($239 million) and set aside £459 million ($716.9 million) for litigation costs, mainly expected to arise from sales of mortgage-backed securities in the U.S. By mid-morning Thursday, the bank's shares were actually in negative territory, down 0.42% at 351.7 pence.

Royal Dutch Shell's A and B shares topped the leader-board for most of the morning, up 3.4% at 1,824.5 pence and 3.5% at 1,839 pence, respectively. Shell said earnings were down $1.7 billion in the second quarter, but said it would pay a full-year dividend of $1.88 a share and stick to its commitment to pay dividend and share buy-back plans for future years.

Shell said it has sold a 33.24% stake in Showa Shell Sekiyu KK for around $1.40 billion to Idemitsu (IDKOF).

Engine-maker Rolls-Royce Holdings (RYCEF) was up over 1%, after its half-year results proved no worse than predicted in previous profit warnings. It said underlying revenues were down 3% compared with the same period last year at £6.3 billion ($9.8 billion), while underlying profit before tax was down 32% at £439 million ($685 million). But its order book was up £2.8 billion ($4.4 billion) at £76.5 billion ($119.5 billion), after a large order from Emirates Airline.

Defense contractor BAE Systems (BAESY) rose about 0.2% after reporting an increase in first-half sales to £8.47 billion ($13.2 billion), from £7.6 billion ($11.9 billion) in the same period last year, while underlying Ebitda was essentially unchanged at around £800 million ($1.25 billion). But group net debt has jumped by almost 90% since the end of last year to £1.93 billion ($3 billion).

Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca (AZN) was up over 2.1% at 4,282.5 pence, after reporting second quarter revenues up 2% at $6.3 billion.

Shares in wires and cables maker HellermannTyton (HMATY) surged 42% higher to 471 pence on Thursday morning after the company said it has agreed to be taken over by Delphi Automotive (DLPH), a U.S.-listed but British-based automotive parts manufacturer.

Chime Communications (CICPF) is up 26% at 347 pence after it said it's in talks to be acquired by Providence Equity Partners and WPP (WPPGY) for £350 million ($546.6 million).

Outsourcing and defense contractor Babcock International (BCKIY) was the biggest faller, down 3.37% at 1,004 pence, after saying that while business was in line with expectations, it still expects lower first-half revenue in its defense and security business and a drop in oil and gas-related revenue.

Spanish telecom group Telefonica (TEF) reported a 13% fall in pretax profits to €1.93 billion ($2.12 billion) in the six months to June, in part due to rising costs. That's despite an 8% increase in revenue, to €23.4 billion ($25.7 billion) as the Spanish economy starts to pick up. Telefonica slid 0.29% to €13.72.

Finland's Nokia (NOK) reported a strong pickup in sales in the second quarter. The telecom group rose 8.95% to €6.51 on the Helsinki exchange.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.08% at 20,522.83, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was down 0.49% at 24,497.98. The Shanghai Composite was down 2.20% at 3,705.77.

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