* SKF falls after forecasting flat Q2 demand
* Goldman Sachs upgrade lifts Thales
* Athens stock market up but Greek worries linger
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - A pullback in bearings maker SKF and crop chemicals group Syngenta weighed on European equities on Friday, keeping a lid on the region’s stock markets after a strong run so far this year.
Some traders said lingering worries over Greece were also leading investors to trim back positions and take profits on the stock market rally.
SKF shares fell 4.8 percent after the Swedish company forecast flat demand for its products in the second quarter, while Syngenta declined by 3 percent after reporting lower sales.
Both SKF and Syngenta were among the worst performers on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has risen nearly 20 percent since the start of 2015.
On the positive side, French electronic systems company Thales rose 2.4 percent after Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the company to “buy” from “neutral”, while higher sales enabled hotels group Accor’s shares to rise.
Greece on Thursday sounded a mix of defiance and willingness to compromise with its international creditors on reforms required to unlock more loans, as it faces running out of money ahead of debt repayments next month.
Athens’ benchmark stock index edged up 0.5 percent on Friday, but the Greek stock market remains down around 9 percent since the start of the year.
“I think the Greece situation will be resolved but we’ve had a massive up-turn on the stock markets so far this year, and the underlying concerns are causing some people to take a bit of money off the table,” said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.
Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu added that a slight rebound in the euro on currency markets was also resulting in the European stock market rally losing a bit of steam. The region’s exporters have benefited this year from a slide in the euro partly caused by new economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB).
“We are consolidating a little bit after the rally due to the fears about Greece and the rebound in the euro. It’s anybody’s guess at this point as to what will happen with Greece,” he said.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Andrew Heavens)