By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: The shares of European companies moved lower, due to losses in oil and gas companies.
European shares were dragged lower by utilities on Friday after Germany's RWE posted disappointing profits and heavyweight oil stocks tracked lower crude prices.
"RWE has missed its numbers and is definitely pulling down the sector," Philippe Gijsels, senior equity strategist at Fortis Bank said.
Germany's second-largest utility RWE reported weaker-than-expected earnings. RWE dropped 5.6%, while rival E.On lost 2.2%.
"Overall the market is still in a sideways trading range. We hit the bottom on January 18 with the SocGen news and we've come up a little bit but basically for one month we have been more or less stable," Gijsels added.
Declines in the oil sector came as light sweet crude prices moved back from recent highs of more than 100 dollars a barrel. The contract was recently down 13 cents at 98.10 dollars a barrel. BP shares fell 1.1%, Royal Dutch Shell lost 1.3%, Total lost 1% and BG Group shares also fell 1%.
In other earnings-related news, shares in U.K. bank Lloyds TSB rose 2.1% after the firm said that its 2007 net income rose to 17%. Other banks performing well included Royal Bank of Scotland and BNP Paribas, both up 1.6%.
French utility Gaz de France lost 2.7% while compatriot Suez fell 2.2% as newspapers said it was in talks with private equity firm Terra Firma to trump an agreed 1.2 billion pound bid for British waste firm Biffa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his speech dedicated to the Day of the Russian Navy, recalled the threats that Russia is currently facing from a number of countries.