7 de noviembre de 2014 / 17:39 / en 3 años

European shares weighed down by banks, mixed U.S. data

* Post-ECB rally fizzles, traders cite loan-demand concerns

* Mixed U.S. jobs data fails to give jolt to market

* FTSEurofirst 300 closes down 0.5 pct

* ArcelorMittal gains after results beat forecasts (Updates final closing prices)

By Lionel Laurent and Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - European shares lost ground on Friday as pessimism over economic growth and loan demand in Europe hit bank stocks, while mixed U.S. jobs data did little to buoy investor sentiment.

Equities had staged a short-lived rally on Thursday after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi reiterated plans to revive the struggling euro zone economy by pumping more money into the economy.

But traders cited lingering doubts over the timing and size of possible future ECB measures as well as signals from euro zone banks which suggested the outlook for loan growth remained bleak.

“Given the fact that we’ve had some weak results in terms of loan growth at French banks, with loan growth even negative at Credit Agricole, there are fears of a real slowdown happening at these banks,” said BESI analyst Shailesh Raikundlia.

The STOXX Europe banks index closed down 1.4 percent, with several Greek banks down 9 to 10 percent and France’s Credit Agricole down 3 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.5 percent.

A monthly U.S. non-farm payrolls report showed job creation solidly above 200,000 in October but shy of the 230-240,000 forecast by analysts, leaving investor sentiment little changed.

“The message seems to be that even if there was a slowdown in the U.S. it was surely temporary,” said Antonin Jullier, global head of equity trading strategy at Citi. “It’s almost a non-event for equity markets. At this rate it would only be extremes that could really jolt the market.”

A positive set of corporate earnings updates did help some blue-chip stocks like ArcelorMittal and Allianz outperform, while the UK FTSE 100 index ended the day up 0.3 percent thanks to a rebound in beaten-down mining stocks such as Fresnillo.

But while cost-cutting has helped earnings growth in Europe, that has failed to completely offset weaker economic signals.

“There’s still no trend at the moment. This market is driven by short-term speculative positions mostly played by hedge funds,” said Jean-Louis Cussac, the head of Paris-based firm Perceval Finance.

“With the year coming to an end, a lot of fund managers are more concerned about protecting the gains made so far this year than to make fresh bets.”

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, gained 2.3 percent after reporting higher-than-expected profit in the third quarter. The company said improvements in its steel business were more than offsetting weak mining operations.

German insurer Allianz rose 3.6 percent after it raised the amount of profit it will pay shareholders as a dividend and promised to keep the cash flowing after reporting a forecast-beating jump in net profit in the third quarter.

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems was among the top gainers, up 17 percent, after raising its full-year guidance and posting a third-quarter result that beat forecasts.

About 70 percent of European companies have reported so far this earnings season. So far, 59 percent have met or beaten profit forecasts and 61 percent have met or beaten revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.

In absolute terms, profits are up 13.6 percent versus the same quarter a year ago but revenues are up just 1.3 percent, highlighting the fact that Europe’s earnings rebound has mostly come from cost-cutting and lower financing costs.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Gareth Jones)

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