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* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.08 percent
* Publicis slumps after growth target cut
* Roche, Orange rise after outlook lifted
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Oct 22 (Reuters) - European shares steadied on Thursday as investors awaited a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day and with sentiment lifted by good earnings updates including from drugmaker Roche.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was 0.08 percent lower after closing broadly flat in the previous session, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index < .STOXX50E> edged up 0.02 percent.
The ECB is likely to keep the door open for more monetary stimulus but stop short of taking new policy steps at a meeting on Thursday as it awaits fresh indications about the outlook for euro zone inflation.
“Today we can expect trade to be choppy ahead of the ECB. But the fact that European shares are flat to slightly positive after declines at Wall Street overnight reflects a recovery of sentiment,” said Anthilia Capital Partners fund manager Giuseppe Sersale.
“Markets in China have rebounded and on average corporate earnings news in Europe are good, while investors expects a dovish tone from Draghi,” he said.
Roche shares rose 1.1 percent after the world’s biggest cancer drug company raised its full-year sales outlook after reporting that revenue in the first nine months of the year increased more than analysts had forecast.
“Roche reported a good third quarter with pleasing set of sales figures,” said BAADER Helvea Equity Research in a note, while Natixis upgraded the stock to buy from neutral.
Phone group Orange climbed 4.2 percent after posting higher third-quarter sales and profits for the first time since 2009, helped by stronger results in its key French market that prompted it to raise its annual profit target.
Telecoms shares were the top sectoral gainers in Europe with a rise of more than 1 percent.
Banks were among the biggest sectoral losers with Credit Suisse and UBS down 2.1 and 0.2 percent respectively after Switzerland outlined tough new capital requirements for its two biggest banks to protect the economy from a major banking collapse.
Shares in French spirits group Pernod Ricard rose 2.6 percent after quarterly sales rose more than expected, as a strong performance in the U.S. offset still sluggish China sales.
Carmaker Daimler edged up 0.03 percent after third-quarter operating profit jumped by almost a third as strong demand in Europe and China coupled with new product launches spurred luxury-car sales to a record.
Publicis fell 7 percent after the world’s third-biggest advertising agency cut its annual organic growth target to 1 percent from 2.5 percent as quarterly sales slowed, markedly hurt by weakness in the United States.
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Tom Heneghan)