European stocks mixed amid Rio Tinto's $14-bln writedown

European stocks diverged on Thursday with the mining sector hit after Rio Tinto announced a shock US$14-billion (10.5-billion-euro) write-down that sparked the resignation of its boss.

In early afternoon deals, London's FTSE 100 index of top companies gained 0.15 percent to 6,113.29 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 index dipped 0.02 percent to 7,689.20.

In Paris, the CAC 40 jumped 0.94 percent to 3,743.33 points, winning a boost from strong earnings from supermarket giant Carrefour and European airliner group Airbus.

The European single currency meanwhile advanced to $1.3351 from $1.3286 late in New York on Wednesday. On the London Bullion Market, gold prices increased to $1,682.55 an ounce from $1,676.25.

"In Europe...the biggest loser has been Rio Tinto after its CEO Tom Albanese stepped down," said analyst Craig Erlam at trading firm Alpari.

The head of Rio Tinto resigned after the Anglo-Australian mining giant announced a $14-billion (10.5-billion-euro) write-down on its Mozambique coal assets and ailing aluminium business.

Rio warned it expected non-cash impairments of $10-11 billion mostly related to the 2007 purchase of aluminium firm Alcan, and $3 billion relating to its Mozambique coal project acquired in 2011, in annual results due on February 14.

In reaction, Rio Tinto shares sank 1.68 percent to 3,400 pence. The group added that Albanese has been replaced by iron ore boss Sam Walsh.

The news also weighed on the broader sector. Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata fell 1.44 percent to 1,126 pence and Anglo American dropped 0.89 percent to 1,884 pence.

Across in Paris, supermarket giant Carrefour saw its share price rocket 8.05 percent to 20.875 euros, topping the CAC 40 leaderboard after posting strong fourth-quarter sales.

The aviation sector also flew into focus, with EADS shares soaring 4.22 percent to 33.805 euros in Paris, after its European airliner division Airbus published impressive sales.

Analysts said the stock gained support also from prospects that Airbus could win new orders after global aviation agencies grounded US rival Boeing's Dreamliner jets.

Airbus "delivered more planes than expected, stoking optimism about a growing order book," noted CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"While there was some downside with lower-than-expected sales of the A380 there is also optimism that the company may benefit from Boeing's current problems even though it has had its own problems with micro-cracks in the wings, which appear to be behind them now," he added.

Asian equities also diverged on Thursday, with Tokyo ending flat after a seesaw session that saw parts suppliers hit by the Dreamliner news.

Wall Street had traded mixed on Wednesday as the Boeing news overshadowed strong earnings from leading banks.

Boeing's shares nosedived 3.4 percent on news that a 787 Dreamliner plane operated by All Nippon Airways had made an emergency landing in Japan.

ANA and Japan Airlines, Japan's two biggest airlines, grounded their 787 fleets pending safety checks, a move that follows a series of incidents that prompted a US federal safety review.

In the banking sector, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both rose after besting earnings expectations. JP Morgan was up 1.0 percent, while Goldman jumped 4.1 percent.

The results also boosted other leading banks, including Bank of America which reports on Thursday, and Morgan Stanley which posts its latest results on Friday.

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