Europe Stocks Inch Further Away From 1-Year High as Banks Slide

Stoxx 600 Little Changed as Earnings Take Center Stage

Declines in banks and commodity producers weighed on European stocks, offsetting positive results from firms including Telefonica SA and Bouygues SA.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.1 percent at the close. Barclays Plc contributed to declines in lenders on Thursday after its quarterly profit missed estimates and analysts questioned a potential shortfall in the bank’s pension scheme that could hit capital.

While moves in the regional benchmark have been lackluster after it climbed to a 14-month high on Wednesday, it’s still trading well above its 50-day moving average and is up 3.2 percent this year.

  • Telefonica climbed 1.8 percent after reporting an increase in fourth-quarter earnings as it began to benefit from a cost-cutting plan and price hikes in Spain. Bouygues added 4.1 percent after forecasting a rise in profitability this year.
  • Investor worries about the French presidential election are easing after candidate Emmanuel Macron agreed on Wednesday to a key alliance with Francois Bayrou, another centrist politician, to boost his campaign. The CAC 40 Index was little changed on Thursday.
  • Since the start of the year, investors have been pouring money into exchange-traded funds that invest in French stocks even as bearish options trading and the country’s bond market have signaled concern that anti-euro presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has been gaining popularity, Bloomberg data shows.
  • BNP Paribas SA’s Love-Panic contrarian market sentiment index shows “love” for U.S. equities and “panic” for euro-zone equities, which indicates potential outperformance of euro-zone stocks in coming months, its strategists wrote in a note.

— With assistance by Elena Popina

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