By Shristi Achar A
(Reuters) -European shares were trading flat on Friday, as gains in healthcare stocks and video games group Ubisoft were offset by a rise in government bond yields following a pullback in aggressive bets on early interest-rate cuts.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was unchanged at 485.12 points, as of 0928 GMT.
Ubisoft jumped 15.9% after the video games group reported third-quarter net bookings slightly above its forecast.
Healthcare stocks led advances, helped by a 9.1% rise in Coloplast (CSE: COLOb) after the Danish medical equipment maker reported better-than-expected first-quarter results.
Focus was also on luxury stocks as Hermes shares rose 4.3%, notching a fresh record high after the Birkin bag maker’s sales jumped in the fourth quarter.
Weighing on the index, L’Oreal dropped 6.7% after the French cosmetics company reported underwhelming fourth-quarter sales growth.
Fourth-quarter earnings are estimated to decrease 7.6% year-on-year for STOXX 600 firms, according to LSEG data, with just about 55% of the 85 companies that have reported so far beating profit expectations.
“Companies have been in a high input cost environment for a long time (and) we’re seeing a slow down in demand. So the way they are trying to manage is by giving out on margins,” said Anthi Tsouvali, multi asset strategist at State Street (NYSE: STT) Global Markets.
While some strong quarterly earnings updates have propelled the benchmark index to eke out modest weekly gains, investor concerns over elevated interest rates for long have kept further gains in check.
Hurting equities on the day, the yield on the German 10-year government bond rose for third-straight session, last at 2.358%, as bets of an early interest-rate cut by the European Central Bank eased after several rate-setters warned against such a move. [GVD/EUR]
Money markets now see a 48% chance of a rate cut in April, having fully priced in such a move at the end of January. [0#ECBWATCH]
Among other earnings, Saab jumped 6.2% after the defence equipment maker lifted mid-term sales growth targets.
Sweco dropped 11.8% to the bottom of STOXX 600 after the Swedish engineering and architecture consultancy company posted fourth-quarter EBITA below expectations.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Pfandbriefbank (PBB) shares extended their declines, down 3.2% over concerns over its exposure to the U.S. commercial real estate market.