European Stocks Edge Towards Recent Highs


European shares edged up to near a 14-month high on Thursday, supported by a rally in Barclays and Dialog.

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Shares in the British bank rose 3.8 percent after it reported a surprise increase in its core capital ratio as it took advantage of rising profits.

"Lower PPI (payment protection insurance) costs and currency tailwinds have helped boost profits at Barclays, while good progress has been made in winding down the bad bank that has been holding the group back," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Dialog Semiconductor surged 7 percent after the maker of chips that go in Apple's and Samsung's smartphones said it expected "good revenue growth" in 2017.

British shopping centre landlord Intu Properties was up 6.8 percent after hiking its dividend for the first time in five years, while insurer RSA was up 5 percent after posting a 25 percent rise in 2016 operating profit and raising its return on equity target. .

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.1 percent after hitting a 14-month high in the previous session.

Germany's DAX was flat, with little changed after data confirmed the country's economy quadrupled its growth rate to 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Broader European market gains were capped by sharp declines in shares of some companies.

Technicolor fell more than 10 percent to a three-year low, the biggest decliner in the STOXX 600 index, after the French media and entertainment company reported a net loss.

French water and waste group Veolia was down 6.7 percent after pushing back its forecast for core earnings by a year.

Around 55 percent companies in the STOXX 600 have reported fourth quarter results so far, of which 56 percent have met and 3 percent have beaten analyst forecasts.

British firms Carnival, Diageo, easyJet , GlaxoSmithKline and Rio Tinto fell 1.3 to 4.8 percent as their shares traded without the entitlement of their latest dividend payouts.

(editing by John Stonestreet)