January 11, 2018 / 8:41 AM / 12 days ago

Results drive sharp moves in European stocks

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - European share trading got off to a hesitant start on Thursday as concerns over protectionism and a bond market sell-off made the breakneck New Year rally in equities fizzle out.

Results drove the bulk of stock moves, with some disappointments weighing heavily.

The pan-European STOXX 600 held steady while euro zone stocks dipped 0.1 percent, recovering from sharp losses in the previous session when jitters over a report that China was considering slowing purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds spilled over into stocks.

A Chinese regulator on Thursday said the report may be “fake”.

Britain’s FTSE 100 meanwhile touched a fresh record, its third in as many days, with a 0.2 percent gain.

Britain’s biggest retailer, Tesco, fell 3.4 percent after the UK supermarket’s Christmas sales fell short of market forecasts.

Its trading update confirmed a trend seen with rival Sainsbury on Wednesday in which sales of general goods have been much weaker than fresh food, a sign that consumers are cutting back on non-essential items.

Marks & Spencer fell 3.6 percent, defying pre-market indications for them to rise after the retailer beat forecasts with a smaller than expected fall in clothing and homeware sales.

Liberum analysts pointed to a slowdown in M&S online sales as a cause for concern.

Danish jewellery firm Pandora dropped to the bottom of the STOXX, down 11 percent after the company said it expected profit margins to fall in the next few years and reported 2017 revenue below expectations.

Hexagon hit the top spot, up 6 percent, after its CEO was cleared of insider trading charges.

Shares in Greene King also tumbled 4.5 percent, with traders citing a downgrade from broker Numis. (Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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