Centrica, oil stocks lead European shares lower

jueves 19 de febrero de 2015 05:37 GYT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, off 7-yr high

* Centrica falls 7.9 pct as oil slump prompts writedowns

* Randstad, Capgemini buck trend after strong numbers

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - European stocks edged off seven-year highs on Thursday after some disappointing updates from utility Centrica and airline Air France-KLM and as a slide in crude prices hit oil shares.

Centrica's shares plunged 7.9 percent, on track for their biggest one-day drop since 2008, after the company slashed its dividend and wrote down the value of some of its exploration & production and power assets following a slump in energy prices.

Shares in Britain's other large power providers - EDF , SSE, Centrica, E.ON, RWE npower - also fell.

The sector has come under pressure from politicians in Britain in recent months due to years of rising energy bills, with the opposition Labour Party promising to freeze prices until 2017 if it wins a general election this May.

"Much (of Centrica's impairments) came from the writedown of the oil (assets) but if oil prices don't continue to go down surely they can write some of it back," Markus Huber, a senior trader at Peregrine & Black, said.   Continuación...