Article Highlights

  • STOXX 600 up 0.1 pct
  • Earnings boost Spanish banks, St Gobain; RBS lags
  • Tech stocks rise after reassuring results from U.S. peers
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Well-received results from Spanish banks and a recovery among tech stocks buoyed European shares in early trading on Friday, setting them up for their fifth week of gains in a row.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1 percent by 0903 GMT and on track for its longest winning streak in terms of weekly gains since last September, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent.

This week banks have been a key focus, with results from Spain’s BBVA and Caixabank sending their shares 2 percent and 0.5 percent higher. Both lenders beat profit forecasts thanks to strength in their overseas markets.

However, Britain’s RBS was a laggard, reversing early gains to trade 2 percent lower after a concerns over a pending fine from the U.S. Department of Justice eclipsed its first-quarter update.

RBS was among the biggest fallers on the European banking index, which declined 0.5 percent.

Elsewhere industrials performed well as shares in St Gobain popped 3 percent higher after the French construction materials group confirmed its 2018 financial outlook.

Satellite firm SES was the biggest gainer, up more than 10 percent after beating first-quarter expectations on the back of strong growth in its networks division.

However, Electrolux fell the most on the STOXX, its shares down 11 percent on a surprise drop in first-quarter core operating profit and a warning on raw material costs.

The earnings season has taken the focus from broader issues such as global trade and geopolitics, which rattled markets in March, while concerns over rising bond yields have also been put on the back burner for now.

“We’ve been able to focus much more the earnings season and underlying trends,” Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said, adding that companies can be more cautious in the first quarter.

“I know markets are very short-term and we do just move from quarter to quarter, but people will remember at the back-end of the year if you upgraded guidance and you’ve got to revise it down again,” van Dulken said.

“It’s not a good look.”

So far around a quarter of companies in the MSCI EMU index have given first quarter updates. Nearly 60 percent have either beat or met analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data. Earnings growth is clocking in at over 15 percent for the quarter, in dollar terms.

Tech stocks also helped fuel gains as the sector continued to recover from recent negative sentiment, following well-received results from tech giant Facebook, Amazon , Microsoft and U.S. chipmakers.