* STOXX 600 up 0.1 percent
* Fingerprint Cards plummets on another profit warning
* Deutsche Bank rises after capital increase
* French banks gain after presidential debate
By Helen Reid
LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - European shares edged up towards 15-month highs on Tuesday, with banking and oil stocks outperforming, though Sweden’s Fingerprint Cards plummeted on another profit warning.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1 percent at 0930 GMT.
Cyclical stocks were back to the fore as French election worries were soothed by centrist Emmanuel Macron cementing his position as frontrunner in the first televised presidential debate on Monday.
The STOXX banking index was up 0.9 percent, and French banks, seen as a bellwether of election developments, gained, with BNP Paribas, Natixis Societe Generale and Credit Agricole up between 1.1 and 1.6 percent.
Among other banks, Deutsche Bank was a top gainer, 2.4 percent above its theoretical ex-rights price as the subscription period for its 8 billion euro capital hike began.
Italy’s banks were the best performers. They have been particularly sensitive to chances of a win by French far-right presidential contender Marine Le Pen, which is seen as posing a risk of euro zone break-up.
Italy’s Banco BPM was up 4.8 percent and leading European gains. Peers BPER Banca, Unicredit, and Intesa Sanpaolo were among those rallying on the FTSE MIB, the best-performing European index.
Shares in Swedish biometric company Fingerprint Cards (FPC) plummeted 30 percent to a 20-month low after it forecast an even weaker first-quarter compared with an already weak outlook, and withdrew its guidance for full-year revenues and profitability.
“Given the magnitude of the decline and despite the fact that FPC is mainly exposed to Chinese OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], we believe market share loss and inventory management are likely,” said UBS analysts.
Fingerprint shares have dropped 55 percent in 2017 so far. The stock had covered more than three days’ worth of its 30-day moving average volume by 0920 GMT.
Belgian biotech company UCB fell 5.1 percent, set for its worst day in ten months, after Jefferies downgraded its rating on the stock to ‘underperform’ from ‘hold’, questioning the firm’s pipeline of drugs.
The broker said the current share price overvalues the opportunity from osteoporosis drug Evenity.
Swiss asset manager Partners Group hit an all-time high, among top European gainers after it posted a 41 percent rise in profits for 2016 and hiked its dividend.
“Partners Group remains a high quality growth situation, albeit one that is well reflected in the share price in our opinion,” said analysts at Baader Helvea, who have a ‘hold’ rating on the stock.
Dutch paints and coatings producer Akzo Nobel hit a record high, up 3.4 percent after a report PPG Industries was preparing a renewed takeover proposal after its initial offer was rejected. (Editing by Mark Potter)