MILAN (Reuters) - European shares bounced back on Friday morning as a flurry of company updates rolled in although the heavyweight banking sector was left behind following poor updates from HSBC (L:HSBA), BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PA:SOGN).
While the European banking index, recently penalised by softening economic data, fell 0.6 percent to lead sectoral losers (SX7P), broad-based gains across sectors lifted the pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) index up 0.3 percent in early trading.
The recent fall in the euro following a rally that started in the second half of last year has helped euro zone stocks outperform Wall Street in the last few weeks, putting the euro zone benchmark index (STOXXE) on track for six straight week of gains.
On Friday solid updates lifted shares in German specialty chemicals firm Lanxess(DE:LXSG), British Airways owner IAG (L:ICAG), Swiss drug ingredients maker Lonza (S:LONN) to the top of the STOXX, while banking stocks were broadly lower.
HSBC declined 2.4 percent after it reported an unexpected 4 percent drop in first-quarter pre-tax profit due to a surge in investments, although its new CEO sought to cheer investors with a share buyback of up to $2 billion.
BNP Paribas and Societe Generale fell sharply, down 3.1 and 6.3 percent respectively, as traders and analysts expressed disappointment with a weak-looking set of first-quarter results from the French banks.