By Danilo Masoni
MILAN (Reuters) – European shares dipped in morning trading on Friday but were on course for eight straight weeks of gains, supported by a rally in energy shares and a weaker euro, which helped investors shrug off worries over Italy.
The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> index fell 0.3 percent by 0827 GMT but remained near its highest level in more than three months and was up 0.5 percent on the week, while the FTSE <.FTSE> fell 0.2 percent from a record close on Thursday.
The last time the STOXX rose eight weeks in a row was in May 2014. After a turbulent start of the year, equities in Europe have been buoyed by a surge in crude prices to $80 which has prompted investors add exposure to the energy sector.
“Within our positive view on overall commodities, we remain neutral on energy. We prefer to gain exposure through energy equities, which have positive cash flows and efficient cash management,” the Investment Strategy Department of Credit Suisse said in a note.
The oil and gas index <.SXEP> is up more than 14 percent year to date, comfortably leading sectoral gainers in Europe. On Friday shares in the sector were taking a breather with shares in oil majors Eni <ENI.MI>, Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> and Total <TOTF.PA> trading down between 0.5 and 0.9 percent.
The drop in the euro against a surging dollar has also helped ease worries that currency headwinds could erode earnings for export oriented companies. The weaker euro prompted Kepler upgrade German equities earlier this month.
Italy’s FTSE MIB <.FTMIB>, down 0.2 percent, however has lagged and was set for its second straight week of losses as investors grew wary that a government accord between two anti-establishment parties could reduce fiscal discipline in the euro zone’s third largest economy.
Enel <ENEI.MI> fell 0.6 percent after Goldman Sachs removed the Italian state-controlled utility from its list of favorite stocks, saying the energy policy plans of the 5-Star and League parties could dent prices.
Italian banks, considered a proxy for political risk in the country due to their government bond holdings, and utilities are seen as most exposed to government polices, while exporters are considered relatively safer.
Elsewhere, earnings updates were behind the biggest moves.
Richemont <CFR.S> fell 7.7 percent after the luxury goods group posted a net profit that fell short of expectations, partly due to buying back inventory, and said it could target strategic investments and divestments.
“We see the higher-than-expected inventory buybacks, slight miss on underlying EBIT and lower-than-expected dividend as being slightly disappointing,” UBS analysts said.
A solid update from Ubisoft <UBIP.PA> sent shares in the France’s biggest video game maker to a record high.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Alison Williams)