MILAN (Reuters) - European shares inched higher on Friday, supported by gains in the insurance sector following a well-received update from German heavyweight Allianz.
The STOXX 600 <.STOXX> added 0.2 percent by 0818 GMT, as stronger financial and materials stocks helped the pan-European index bounce back after suffering its biggest one-day loss since the end of June in the previous session.
Allianz <ALVG.DE> was the biggest single boost to the STOXX, up 1.3 percent, sending Europe's insurance index <.SXIP> up 0.7 percent.
The German insurance giant posted a 17 percent decline in net profit and provided a slightly less rosy outlook for full year earnings as a spate of natural catastrophes weighed.
Traders said results at Allianz, which also announced a 2 billion euro share buyback plan, were in line with expectations and the new guidance was within an earlier range.
Its gains lifted the euro STOXX 50 <.STOXX50E> 0.2 percent higher. The euro zone blue chip index was, however, on track to post a weekly fall following 10 straight weeks of gains.
Leonardo <LDOF.MI> slumped 16 percent after the state-controlled Italian aerospace and defence company cut its 2017 targets, prompting a raft of broker downgrades on the stock.
Around 74 percent of companies on the MSCI EMU <.dMIEM00000PUS> index have reported results so far with earnings beats at 51 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Earnings beats on the broader MSCI Europe <.dMIEU00000PUS> index are at 55 percent, while in the U.S. S&P 500 <.SPX> beats are at 72 percent.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Editing by Kit Rees)