* STOXX 600 up 0.3%, oil stocks track crude higher
* Kering slides as Gucci sales lose sparkle
* Nestle's 2.7% jump boosts food & beverage stocks
* Recovery in euro area has further to run - TS Lombard
Oct 20 (Reuters) - European shares closed at six-week highs
on Wednesday as strong results from Nestle boosted food company
stocks, helping outweigh losses after a clutch of disappointing
earnings including luxury group Kering and chipmaker ASML.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended 0.3% higher,
with oil stocks also aiding gains as crude prices
Swiss food giant Nestle gained 2.7% on an upbeat
sales outlook after strong coffee sales and price hikes pushed
organic sales 6.5% higher in the third quarter.
Europe's food and beverage index rose 1.7%, with
Anglo-Dutch rival Unilever, which is due to give a
trading update on Thursday, up 0.8%. The sector had dipped last
session after downbeat results from Danone.
As the third-quarter earnings season unfolds, investors are
fretting about the impact of higher costs, stemming from
supply-chain problems and labour shortfalls, especially when
central banks across the globe are planning to withdraw their
"The bar (for earnings) that was set early this year is too
high. It's going to be hard to beat that," said Anna Stupnytska,
global macro economist at Fidelity International.
Kering tumbled 0.6% as sales growth at its star
fashion brand Gucci missed analysts' expectations due to a sharp
slowdown in its pace of recovery, particularly in Asia.
TS Lombard said it downgraded German and French equities as
the heavy presence of automotive and luxury companies leaves
them vulnerable to a slowdown in China, but still holds out hope
for the broader region.
"Growth headwinds are mounting, but we believe that the
recovery in the euro area has further to run," it said.
ASML Holdings, a key supplier to computer chip
makers, fell almost 4% after its fourth-quarter sales forecast
fell short of some analysts' estimates.
Drugmaker Roche beat revenue expectations and raised
its 2021 sales forecast amid pandemic-driven demand. But its
shares were down 1.6%.
Dutch paints and coatings maker Akzo Nobel slipped
1.3% as its quarterly earnings were hit by continued raw
material inflation and supply chain disruptions, which it
expects to continue through mid-2022.
Europe Inc earnings are expected to have risen 47.6% to 96.1
billion euros ($112 billion) in the third quarter, latest data
from Refinitiv I/B/E/S showed, only a slight improvement from
last week's 46.7% growth forecast.
Miner Rio Tinto slipped 3.3% as investors worried
about spending after it announced a $7.5 billion plan to reduce
(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; editing by
Uttaresh.V, Anil D'Silva and Ed Osmond)