European shares hover near 7-week highs, Maersk underpins

European shares edged back after setting a fresh seven-week high on Friday, with weaker miners offsetting gains in companies such as A.P. Moller-Maersk , which rose sharply following its earnings update.

Shares in Maersk ended up 3.1 percent, having risen as much as 6.9 percent in early deals, after the Danish shipping and oil giant stuck to its 2016 forecast despite a sharp fall in quarterly net profit.

The second-quarter reporting season is entering into its final stages. So far, 88 percent companies in the STOXX 600 index have reported results, of which 61 percent have met or beaten earnings per share (EPS) forecasts. However, the second-quarter earnings are set to fall about 8 percent from last year.

Dennis Jose, European equity strategist at Barclays, said that the EPS beat was on the back of a cut in consensus estimates heading into the reporting season.

“Other than autos and software companies, few have seen material upgrades to EPS estimates. The now familiar pattern of companies beating lowered expectations, without a subsequent upgrade to EPS forecasts, has repeated itself,” he said.

The STOXX Europe 600 index was down 0.2 percent after hitting a seven-week high earlier in the session, recouping all of its post-Brexit losses.

The index has rose 1.4 percent so far this week and headed for its best weekly performance since mid-July.

Miners came under pressure as metals prices fell after data showing China’s fixed-asset investment growth eased to 8.1 percent year-on-year in the January-July period, missing market expectations. Industrial output growth rose 6.0 percent, but disappointed analysts who were expecting a higher reading.

The STOXX Europe Basic Resources index dropped 1.8 percent, the worst sectoral performer, hit by falls of around 3 percent in shares of Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Billiton.

Insurer Talanx fell 3.9 percent after reporting a weaker-than-expected second quarter net profit rise due to a hit from natural disasters and unfavourable currency swings.

Germany’s DAX ended down 0.3 percent, and was unmoved by data showing the country’s economic growth slowed less than expected in the second quarter as higher exports and strong state spending and private consumption compensated for weaker investment in construction and machinery.

Source: Reuters