Europe shares dip; Sunrise climbs in market debut

By Reuters

Feb 06, 2015 04:39 AM EST

European stocks dipped on Friday, with regional indexes pausing just below recent multi-year highs as investors looked to the January U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the session.

Shares in Tate & Lyle were the biggest losers across Europe, sinking 14 percent after the British ingredients company said annual profits would be below the range it forecast in September, hit by a weak performance in sweeteners in its third quarter.

Danish freight forwarder DSV also featured among the top losers, down 5.1 percent after fourth quarter operating profit missed expectations and the group proposed a lower dividend than predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Shares in Norwegian oil firm Statoil rose 2.5 percent after it maintained its dividend despite big writedowns on the value of its assets due to plunging crude oil prices.

"Impressive fourth-quarter production and dividend outlook. Management shows great confidence in the cash flow generation and balance sheet," said Sparebank 1 Markets analyst Kristoffer Dahlberg.

The sharp drop in oil prices that started in mid-2014 has forced a lot of oil companies to book big writedowns while a number of oil services companies have suspended their dividend.

Shares in Swiss telecoms company Sunrise made a solid market debut, rising 5 percent above its IPO price of 68 Swiss francs.

Backed by European private equity fund CVC, Sunrise is raising 1.36 billion francs with the listing, which went ahead despite a surge in the franc after the central bank scrapped the currency's cap against the euro.

At 0906 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent at 1,484.54 points, trading in a tight range ahead of the U.S. jobs data, due at 1330 GMT.

Economists polled by Reuters expected U.S. employers to have added 234,000 workers in January, below December's increase of 252,000.

The jobless rate was expected to remain at a 6-1/2-year low of 5.6 percent, while average hourly earnings were forecast to show a rise of 0.3 percent following the previous month's fall of 0.2 percent.

"It's a bit of a double-edged sword again. A very good figure would be seen as negative for the market, changing the outlook for interest rate hikes," said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France.

"It will also be interesting to see the potential damage from the drop in oil prices on the jobs in the U.S. energy sector, with all the cuts in investments."

Overall, Europe's earnings season has so far been quite positive.

About 60 companies listed on the broad STOXX Europe 600 have reported results, with 61 percent exceeding analyst forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data. In a typical quarter, 48 percent of STOXX 600 companies beat estimates.

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