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European stocks post first monthly fall of 2015 after Nokia drop


NOKIAA selloff in technology stocks, after disappointing numbers from Nokia, weighed on European shares as a pan-European benchmark index marked its first monthly fall this year.

However, most national euro zone indexes were in positive territory after data showed deflation had ended, persuading investors that monetary easing by the European Central Bank was having an effect. Shares in Finland’s Nokia plunged 10.7 percent after it posted quarterly profits well below forecast at its main telecom network equipment business, citing lower software sales, higher costs and challenging conditions in Europe and Latin America.

“It came as a surprise to many because Nokia’s business mix was supposed to be a bit better than this,” Evli Bank analyst Mikko Ervasti said. Sector peer Alcatel Lucent, the target of a planned takeover by Nokia, dropped 9.7 percent while Ericsson was down 2.9 percent.

The broader STOXX Europe 600 tech index fell 2.2 percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European shares closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,575.28 points.

That left it down 0.6 percent for April, its first monthly fall since December. Milan-listed shares in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles extended losses from the previous session, falling 5.7 percent, after Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne made another call for large-scale consolidation in the car industry.

Franco-Italian semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics slid more than 13 percent after posting slightly weaker-than-expected first-quarter results and warning it anticipated little pickup in the current quarter.

With just over a third of European earnings releases out by Wednesday, 61 percent of companies had met or beaten expectations, StarMine data showed. Germany’s DAX and Italy’s FTSE MIB both rose 0.2 percent, with the Spanish IBEX and France’s CAC both up 0.1 percent.

Banco Popular jumped 6.6 percent. Although Spain’s sixth-biggest bank by market value posted a net interest income below forecast, it reaffirmed its objectives to hit a 2.3 billion-2.4 billion euro net interest income target in 2015.

Many analysts are betting on a euro zone economic recovery to support earnings this year and Spain’s economy expanded in the first quarter at its fastest pace in over seven years, data showed on Thursday.

The euro zone ended four months of deflation in April, although prices were only flat from a year earlier. “Earnings are in line to have another quarter of growth, particularly in sales, and that highlights that the economic recovery in Europe is on track,” said James Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts.

Major European stock markets, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, will be shut on Friday. London’s stock market will be open.

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