February 22, 2018 / 8:44 AM / a year ago

European shares drop as earnings flurry fails to lift sentiment

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LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - European shares retreated in early trading as a flurry of corporate results fail to lift sentiment after a new wave of speculation about faster hikes in U.S interest rates hit Wall Street and Asia and soured risk appetite globally.

Most European bourses and sectors were falling and at 0834 GMT on Thursday, the pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.7 percent.

Barclays was the best performing stock among blue-chips, rising 5.8 percent after it pledged to restore its full dividend with a payout of 6.5 pence per share in 2018.

The British bank's earnings come a day after Lloyds' results boosted optimism for the sector.

In the currently unpopular utilities sectors, France's Veolia jumped 3.3 percent after reporting an acceleration of growth in early 2018. Double-digit international growth and a recovery in France boosted 2017 core earnings.

Top UK energy supplier Centrica, which issued a profit warning in November, rose 3.1 percent after it raised its cost saving target by 500 million pounds and said it would cut about 4,000 jobs by 2020.

Other blue-chip companies made gains after publishing their results, such as Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB up 4.4 percent and French chemical group Arkema , which rose 3.6 percent.

In sharp contrast to the positive share price reaction to Glencore's upbeat results on Wednesday, Anglo American fell 3.3 percent after presenting its 2007 results.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Tom Pfeiffer

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