UPDATE 2-European shares end best week since 2018 on weak footing

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
UPDATE 2-European shares end best week since 2018 on weak footing
Credit: © Reuters.

* Coronavirus death toll in China reaches 636

* Burberry flags slip in sales due to virus

* Novo Nordisk (CSE: NOVOb ), Umicore fall after results

* L'Oreal, Yara gain on upbeat profit reports (Updates with closing price, changes comment)

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 7 (Reuters) - European shares retreated from record highs on Friday, as underwhelming earnings reports and concerns about the economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak halted a stellar run in stocks this week.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX fell 0.26%, snapping a four-day winning streak, as the number of deaths from the flu-like virus climbed to 636 and several more companies suspended operations in the country. Group Plc BRBY.L said the outbreak was hitting luxury demand in China and Hong Kong, a key market for the British fashion brand. Its shares fell marginally. sectors such as basic materials .SXPP , luxury and auto stocks .SXAP , which have seesawed over the past two weeks on virus fears, were the biggest decliners on the day. MET/L O/R

However, Friday's losses did little to deter the STOXX 600 from recording its best weekly gain since November 2018 as China's attempts earlier this week to limit the fallout of the outbreak reassured investors.

"Having already rallied hard this week, it was going to be hard to push equities higher into the weekend, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus in China," Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, wrote in a note.

After spending much of the session in the red, Swiss lender Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.S ended 0.2% higher after Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam quit following a spying scandal that has hit the reputation of the Swiss bank. Norsk Hydro ASA NHY.OL tumbled 12% after missing quarterly profit estimates, while Belgian materials and recycling group Umicore SA UMI.BR fell about 10% after an earnings miss at one of its key divisions. data from the bloc this week had raised hopes that a slowdown may be bottoming out, but latest numbers showed German industrial output registered its biggest drop in more than a decade in December. data has raised the risk that next week's GDP data could bring back the R-word for the German economy," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist, Germany at ING, referring to fears of a recession.

Among the bright spots, cosmetics maker L'Oreal SA OREP.PA hit a record high and fertiliser maker Yara International ASA YAR.OL rose 5.3% after posting better-than-expected quarterly profit. in Finland's Nokia NOKIA.HE and Sweden's Ericsson (BS: ERICAs ) ERICb.ST rose about 6% each after U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. and its allies should consider taking a "controlling stake" in the European companies to counter China-based Huawei's dominance in 5G wireless technology.

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