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European shares hold near two-yr highs before BoE decision

European shares hold near two-yr highs before BoE decision

Bank of England Stance Emboldens Bets for May Rate Increase
Le banche inglesi adeguano i tassi dei mutui ma non dei conti
BOE Officials Seen Unified After First Rate Increase in a Decade

Reuters Staff

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares hovered near two-year highs on Thursday, with trading muted as investors battened down the hatches ahead of the Bank of England’s policy meeting, though a profit warning from Playtech punctured the calm in early deals.

The pan-European STOXX 600 steadied near two-year highs on Thursday, with British, German and French stocks also broadly flat as investors awaited the BOE’s 1200 GMT decision.

The bank is widely expected to raise interest rates for the first time since 2007, and a decision to hold rates is likely to prove disruptive, analysts say.

The calm was however punctured by gambling technology company Playtech, shares in which plummeted 21 percent after warning on profit due to a slowdown in parts of Asia and problems with a bingo contract.

Strong results from oil services firm Tenaris sent the stock up 6 percent and helped Italy’s benchmark outperform peers, up 0.4 percent.

With nearly half of European companies having reported for the third quarter, industrial, financial and tech sectors stand out as the best-performing, according to Thomson Reuters data. Overall 66 percent of companies in the MSCI Europe have beat or met earnings expectations, underpinning regional indices’ gains.

Results from banks Credit Suisse and ING confirmed the strong performance of the sector which investors have warmed to this year as a play on Europe’s return to growth. Both beat expectations for third-quarter profit.

Credit Suisse shares gained 2 percent, helping financials add the most points to the index.

Randgold Resources tumbled 6.4 percent after third-quarter results missed forecasts.

UK online grocer Ocado also tumbled 3.7 percent.