* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.6 pct
* Aberdeen Asset Management falls after update
* Credit Suisse gains as profits beat forecasts
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - European equities fell in late trading on Thursday, with disappointing updates from companies including Aberdeen Asset Management and British energy supplier SSE putting pressure on their share prices.
U.S. data showing the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in more than 41 years also weighed on sentiment as these numbers further strengthened the case for a U.S. interest rate hike, analysts said.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.6 percent at 1,577.48 points by 1342 GMT. This extended the index’s fall in the previous session, when tech stocks dragged down the market after Apple’s revenue forecast fell short of estimates.
Aberdeen Asset Management was the biggest decliner in the FTSEurofirst 300 index. Its shares fell 7.3 percent to their lowest in 1-1/2-years after the fund manager said it saw net outflows of 9.9 billion pounds ($15.5 billion) in the April-June quarter as institutional investors cut exposure to Asia and emerging markets equities.
“We have got concerns about the eminent prospect of a U.S. rate hike in the next couple of months and this is getting reflected in outflows. Those companies which are heavily dependent on the emerging market for their final product may struggle,” Peter Dixon of Commerzbank said.
Investors kept a close eye on earnings reports, which have the potential to set the market’s direction in the near term. SSE fell 4.9 percent after it predicted lower profits from its retail business this year, some weeks after the competition watchdog found households had been overcharged some 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) a year.
But Credit Suisse rose 7 percent, the top gainer in the FTSEurofirst 300 index and on track for its biggest one-day percentage gain since March. It had posted better-than expected earnings and improvements to its capital cushion ahead of a strategy shake-up under its new chief executive.
“The Q2 results season is up and running and the early indications are positive,” said Robert Parkes, equity strategist at HSBC. “We believe there is plenty more to come and see the improving global business cycle taking over from currency as the key driver of earnings in 2016.”
Power and automation firm ABB rose 2.3 percent after its net profit beat analysts’ expectations, while Unilever added 1.3 percent after reporting better sales than forecast.
Analysts said that attractive valuations could make European companies appealing to some investors. The STOXX Europe 600 index trades at 15.7 times its 12-month forward earnings, against 16.7 times for the U.S. S&P 500 index, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Liisa Tuhkanen; Editing by Mark Heinrich)