* Geberit Q4 weighs down construction stocks
* Chipmakers, auto stocks rally on TSMC results
* Bank stocks hit over 3-year high
Jan 13 (Reuters) - European stocks were muted on Thursday as
losses in defensive sectors were matched by gains in automakers
and technology stocks on hopes of improving semiconductor
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended largely unchanged
at 486.05 points, with shares in healthcare, and
personal and household goods falling the most, down 0.9%
and 1.2%, respectively.
A recent rise in bond yields weighed on most defensive
sectors as investors expected rising inflation to prompt
monetary policy tightening across the developed world this year.
The STOXX 600, which hit a record high at the start of the
year, has struggled to maintain gains as concerns over the
impact of higher inflation, the Omicron variant and supply
pressures also dulled sentiment.
European stocks could struggle to see major rallies with the
looming prospects of higher rates, said Equiti Capital analyst
"We're going to see some companies particularly in the
retail space, manufacturing sectors start talking about lower
Geberit slipped 4.1%, taking the construction
sector lower after it said increased uncertainty made it
impossible to provide outlook for 2022, and that the
construction market remained fragile.
Automakers were the best performers for the day, up
1.8% after TMSC, the world's largest contract
chipmaker, posted a record quarterly profit and flagged plans to
ramp up production.
A chip shortage had forced several carmakers to cut
production through last year, weighing on auto sales.
Tech stocks rose 0.7%, supported by gains in major
chipmakers, including BE Semiconductors, ASM
International and Soitec.
STMicro added 2.3%, while Infineon rose
Still, gains in the tech sector were constrained by rising
European bank stocks rose 1.4%, reaching a more-than
three-year high on the prospect of higher lending rates.
Meanwhile, investors continued to watch any developments on
the COVID front, as Omicron-related infections shot up across
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged mandatory COVID-19
vaccinations for all adults, while the French Senate approved
new measures to tackle the virus, including a vaccine pass.
Among other stocks, Germany's largest solar group SMA Solar
Technology dropped 8.1% after a second forecast cut
Food ingredients maker Chr Hansen rose 6.7% after
reporting quarterly organic revenue growth well above forecasts.
(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak
Dasgupta, Vinay Dwivedi and Angus MacSwan)