European shares hit 2-wk high on positive company news

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 11, 2014 09:50 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 gains 0.6 percent

* Hexagon shares jump after results

* Autos race higher, BMW up on record sales

By Atul Prakash

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - European shares climbed to a two-week high on Tuesday, with positive news from companies like BMW and Hexagon boosting sentiment ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve chair's testimony, which is likely to be dovish.

Measurement technology group Hexagon rose 4.7 percent to the top of pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index after posting Q4 sales and operating profit in line with expectations and saying its sales should grow at least 5 percent in 2014.

The European auto sector raced higher, with the sector index rising 1.4 percent. It was helped by a 1.7 percent rise in BMW after the luxury automaker said its January vehicle sales rose to a record high.

"The market is supported by some positive corporate news. Equities will further react positively if we get some more positive news on earnings, which has been disappointing," said Daniel McCormack, strategist with Macquarie.

He said the market was also likely to get some help from Janet Yellen when she testifies to lawmakers for the first time as head of the Federal Reserve.

"I suspect that she will talk in quite dovish manner, particularly given the very recent data flows which has been on the weaker side," McCormack said. "That will also probably support the market."

At 0859 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.6 percent at 1,309.24 points after climbing to its highest since late January in a fifth straight session of gains.

UK retailers were helped by a survey showing British retail sales rebounded last month after a weak December to record their strongest annual growth since April 2011.

Debenhams rose 2.6 percent, Kingfisher was up 2.4 percent and Home Retail added 3.6 percent.

Among sharp movers, L'Oreal gained 2.5 percent after saying its fourth quarter underlying sales growth improved more than expected. It also announced it would buy 8 percent of its capital for 6.5 billion euros ($9 billion) from Swiss consumer goods group Nestle, boosting the group's earnings per share by more than 5 percent.

Its shares later gave up gains after hitting an eight-month high.

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