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* FTSEurofirst 300 and Euro STOXX 50 flat
* Roche, Orange rise after outlook lifted
* Publicis slumps after growth target cut
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Oct 22 (Reuters) - European shares were steady on Thursday, with solid earnings from drugmaker Roche supporting markets, while investors eyed a European Central Bank meeting later in the day for signs of more monetary support.
Both the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index and the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index were flat ahead of the ECB meeting.
The euro zone’s central bank is likely to keep the door open for more monetary stimulus but stop short of taking new policy steps at its meeting on Thursday, as it awaits fresh indications of the outlook for inflation in the bloc.
“Today we can expect trade to be choppy ahead of the ECB. But the fact that European shares are flat to slightly positive after declines at Wall Street overnight reflects a recovery of sentiment,” Anthilia Capital Partners fund manager Giuseppe Sersale said.
Roche shares rose 1.2 percent after the world’s biggest cancer drug company raised its full-year sales outlook after reporting that revenue in the first nine months of the year increased more than analysts had forecast.
“Roche reported a good third quarter with pleasing set of sales figures,” said BAADER Helvea Equity Research in a note, while Natixis upgraded the stock to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’.
French spirits group Pernod Ricard also rose 3 percent after quarterly sales rose more than expected, as a strong U.S. performance offset sluggish China sales.
Publicis slumped 9 percent, however, after the world’s third-biggest advertising agency cut its annual organic growth target to 1 percent from 2.5 as quarterly sales slowed.
Banks were among the biggest sectoral losers, with Credit Suisse and UBS falling after Switzerland outlined tough new capital requirements for its two biggest banks to protect the economy from any banking collapse.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans)