European shares snap winning run as earnings disappoint

Reuters - UK Focus

* FTSEurofirst down 0.9 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 1 pct

* Italy's FTSE MIB lags on political uncertainty

* Nestle (VTX: NESN.VX - news) weighs as it warns on slower emerging market demand

* BNP (Paris: FR0000131104 - news) -Paribas leads bank selloff after profit drop

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - European stocks snapped aweek-long winning streak on Thursday, weighed down by a batch ofdisappointing updates from blue-chip companies, while Italianshares lagged peers on the threat of a new political crisis.

Shares in Swiss food group Nestle fell 2 percentafter it said it may undershoot its long-term growth targetsagain this year due to weaker demand from emerging markets andprice pressures in Europe.

French spirits group Pernod Ricard (Frankfurt: PER.F - news) also warnedabout weak demand in China on Thursday as it cut its annualprofit growth goal. After a sharp drop in early trade, shares inthe group rebounded, with analysts at Liberum saying long-terminvestors could find an attractive entry point at the currentprice.

An MSCI basket of stocks with the highest proportion ofsales from emerging countries has fallen by more than 2 percentthis year, underperforming the broader market, as signs of aslowdown in China and capital flight from other emergingcountries saw traders ditch assets linked to those regions.

"Our view is that there will be some further disappointmentfrom companies exposed to emerging markets in the fourth quarter(2013). Difficult to assess, however, what is now included inshare prices as this thematic is very well known," said YannBelvisi, a strategist at CM-CIC Securities in Paris.

"Consensus is becoming very bearish on these stocks but wedon't expect (emerging market) economies to bottom too low, soopportunities should materialise later in the year."

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down0.9 percent at 1,314.94 points at 1336 GMT, falling for thefirst time in seven sessions. The Euro STOXX 50 index was down 1 percent at 3,063.81.

Italy's FTSE MIB was the worst performer amongmajor European indexes as it fell 1.6 percent on uncertaintyover the stability of its government.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta's position has come underincreasing pressure following repeated criticisms by his partysecretary Matteo Renzi of the slow pace of economic reforms.

The leadership committee of Letta's Democratic Party meetsat 1400 GMT to decide whether he has the party's backing tocontinue.

Banks such as Intesa Sanpaolo (Frankfurt: IES.F - news) , heavily exposed tothe country's sovereign debt, weighed on the index, which hit a2-1/2 year high on Wednesday.

A solid auction of Italian debt earlier on Thursday,however, suggested investors were keeping their faith in Italydespite the fresh wave of political uncertainty.

"It's a tail risk so far and it would only become a realrisk if we had elections, which seems unlikely," said WouterSturkenboom, investment strategist at Russell Investments, whichmanages around $256 billion worth of assets.

"If Renzi becomes prime minister it could actually be apositive because he might be a little bit more forceful on thereform agenda."


Banks also weighed on European stock markets after weakupdates from BNP Paribas (Milan: BNP.MI - news) , Belgium's KBC andBritain's Lloyds Banking Group, down between 1.5percent and 4.2 percent.

European commercial banks were seen missing consensusexpectations by 18 percent this quarter, according to StarMine'sSmartEstimates, which are based on the forecasts of the analystswith the best track record.

The STOXX Europe 600 banking index has risen nearly30 percent since late June 2013 as investors piled into stocksexposed to the European domestic recovery.

Bucking the sector trend was Germany's Commerzbank (TLO: CB-U.TI - news), which rose 1.3 percent after posting a small profitin the fourth quarter of 2013.

Britain's Rolls Royce (LSE: RR.L - news) , the world's second-largestaircraft engine maker, was the top faller on the FTSEurofirst300, down 16.8 percent, after it forecast declining defenceaerospace and marine revenues in 2014.

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