PARIS, June 13 (Reuters) - European shares ended broadly steady on Thursday, recovering from the session's lows after upbeat U.S. retail sales and a drop in jobless claims prompted bargain hunters to pick up hammered mining and banking stocks.
The better-than-expected U.S. data fuelled expectations the economy was shaking off a soft patch seen in the past few weeks, eclipsing recent worries the Federal Reserve could soon start to scale back its stimulus measures.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally closed flat at 1,174.57 points, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index ended 0.1 percent lower at 2,664.94 points.
The two indexes had fallen as much as 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent respectively earlier in the session, with both testing major support levels representing 200-day moving averages, before bouncing back.
"Volatility should stay high until next week's Fed meeting, where they will probably try to calm down the market," said Bernard Kalfon, head of volatility strategy and risk management at Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privee, which has 83 billion Swiss Francs ($90.1 billion) in assets under management.
"But the volatility has risen quite a lot already in the past few weeks, and we've started to book profits on put options at these levels. I don't expect a serious drop in stocks. All in all, it remains the most attractive asset class."
Among the day's top gainers featured miner Rio Tinto , up 2.6 percent and French bank BNP Paribas, up 1.6 percent.