October 31, 2017 / 8:32 AM / a year ago

European shares hold at 5-month highs as BP buoys oil stocks

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - European stocks held at five-month highs on Tuesday, supported by a jump in the shares of oil firm BP, which announced buoyant earnings and a share buyback programme, but banking shares were presssured by a fall in BNP Paribas.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was flat in percentage terms by 0817 GMT, while euro zone blue chips were also steady.

Trading was muted as Germany's stock market was closed for a holiday, and investors looked ahead to key central bank policy decisions from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

Earnings updates added some spice at the single-stock level, with shares in heavyweight oil major BP jumping more than 3 percent to their highest level since July 2014 after its third quarter profit beat expectations.

BP also announced a share buyback programme.

Ryanair results were also well-received, with the budget airline's shares jumping more than 5 percent to the top of the STOXX index after it maintained its full-year profit guidance. Chemicals maker Croda also gained 3.6 percent after a trading update.

Pipe and valve maker Weir Group dropped 6.6 percent, however, after saying that it expected its full-year operating profit to be lower than estimates.

BNP Paribas was the biggest banking sector loser of the day, down 3 percent after posting its results, with traders pointing to disappointing performance in its markets business.

So far more than 40 percent of MSCI Europe companies have reported results for the third quarter, of which 65 percent have either met or beaten expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data. Financials and tech are sectors standing out for their large proportion of beats.

Reporting by Kit Rees; editing by Sujata Rao

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