11 de febrero de 2015 / 9:34 / en 3 años

European shares steady ahead of euro zone meeting on Greece

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.03 pct, trading in tight range

* Greek banking shares surrender some of Tuesday’s gains

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - European shares were steady on Wednesday ahead of euro zone ministers meetings to discuss Greece’s debt crisis and Athens’ benchmark stock index fell nearly 4 percent.

National Bank of Greece dropped 10 percent, Bank of Piraeus 6.2 percent and Alpha Bank 6.3 percent, while the leading ATG index fell 3.8 percent.

By 0915 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares, whose only three Greek stocks are those banks, rose 0.03 percent to 1,488.84 points.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has comfortably won a confidence vote on cancelling a bailout programme and euro zone finance ministers meet to discuss how to proceed with financial support for the country at 1630 GMT in Brussels.

EU leaders meet to discuss the issue on Thursday.

On the earnings front, shares in ING Group rose 2.5 percent after the Dutch bank said it will resume paying a dividend in 2015, the first time in seven years.

Norsk Hydro surged 3.8 percent after the aluminium producer posted a six-fold jump in underlying operating profit and announced a bigger-than-expected dividend.

Life sciences company DSM gained 4.7 percent after saying it expects 2015 earnings to be higher than last year’s despite low Vitamin E prices and negative currency effects.

Bucking the trend, shares in Nordic mobile phone operator Telenor was a standout loser, down 5.5 percent after it reported fourth-quarter earnings below expectations.

Shares in Africa-focused oil and gas explorer Tullow Oil also fell, losing 3.3 percent after reporting a $2 billion pretax loss, its first in 15 years, and scrapping its dividend to deal with a sharp decline in oil prices.

Europe’s earning season has been mostly positive so far. About a third of STOXX 600 index companies have reported, and 61 percent have met or beaten analyst forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.

“There’s a bit of hesitation on the market, but there’s no real selling pressure and the pull-backs are good buying opportunities,” Perceval Finance head, Jean-Louis Cussac, said.

“With the quantitative easing programme coming, it’s difficult to see a correction in stocks,” he said, referring to the European Central Bank’s vast bond-buying programme.

Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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