European shares rise as SocGen surges and car stocks rally

LONDON - European shares rose on Wednesday with Societe Generale surging as the French bank became the latest major company in the region to post forecast-beating earnings.

European carmakers, which fell in late July on concerns about a slowdown in their important Chinese market, also rallied, with Renault rising after Exane BNP Paribas increased its price target on the stock.

Technology stocks were steady after weakening in the previous session following a slide in Apple shares, but Greek stocks were down for a third straight day with Athens still seeking a new bailout deal.

Societe Generale rose 8.8 percent, making it the best performer in percentage terms on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which advanced 1.1 percent. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index rose 1.4 percent.

SocGen reported better-than-expected earnings and targeted a slightly larger cushion of capital and higher cost savings.

Nivea maker Beiersdorf also rose 3.8 percent after beating profit expectations.

According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, 59 percent of companies on the European STOXX 600 index have beaten or met market expectations with results this quarter.

Markus Huber, senior analyst at Peregrine & Black, said the solid results coming out of many European companies were providing investors with a reason to back European shares over U.S. and Asian stocks. "Overall sentiment remains positive, with Europe likely to continue to outperform their American peers," he said.

Athens' main equity index fell 2.4 percent, however.

The parliamentary spokesman for Greece's ruling Syriza party urged it on Wednesday to unite behind a new funding agreement.

Many investors have cut their exposure to Greece, which represents only a fraction of the overall European economy.

Some also said the situation in Athens was improving, given steps towards a new Greek bailout, and Pictet Asset Management raised its exposure towards European stocks. "As the uncertainty surrounding Athens has lifted, a more positive light is shining on the region while valuations have become more reasonable following the correction of the past few months," it said.

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