Miners, earnings support European shares; French stocks under pressure ahead of election


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LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - European shares advanced in early deals on Friday, though France's benchmark CAC 40 .FCHI declined slightly ahead of the first round of voting in the French presidential election. The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX index was up 0.1 percent, on track to mark its third session of straight gains, while France's CAC .FCHI fell 0.4 percent. French food group Danone DANO.PA was the biggest faller on the CAC 40, down 2.4 percent after reporting first-quarter sales figures, which rose 0.7 percent, a sharp slowdown from 2.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1HS5TW French banks extended the previous session's gains, with Societe Generale SOGN.PA , BNP Paribas BNPP.PA and Credit Agricole CAGR.PA trading 0.2 percent to 1.2 percent higher. A rally in basic resources stocks .SXPP underpinned broader gains, as the sector rose 1.9 percent on the back of supportive metals prices. MET/L Earnings and deal-making drove the action at the single-stock level, with Germany's Software AG SOWG.DE climbing 4.6 percent to the top of the STOXX 600 after reporting first-quarter results. The software business maker's quarterly core profit declined less than expected. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nF9N1GT021 Engineering firm WS Atkins ATKW.L gained 4 percent after Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group SNC.TO said it would buy the firm for C$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion), firming up an indicative offer it made earlier this month. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1HS5VF Domino's Pizza DOM.L rose more than 3 percent after Peel Hunt raised its rating on the stock to "buy" from hold". (Reporting by Kit Rees, editing by Helen Reid) ((kit.rees@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 2784;)) Keywords: EUROPE STOCKS/

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