European shares jump for 2nd day as central banks calm nerves

Last Updated: Wed, Jun 26, 2013 17:10 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 rises 1.7 pct

* Posts biggest 2-day gain since April

* Reassuring messages from central bank fuel broad rebound

* Euro STOXX 50 up 2.3 pct

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - European shares recorded their biggest two-day gain since April on Wednesday as reassuring central bank comments eased concerns about any imminent tightening of global monetary conditions.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 1.7 percent at 1,149.71 points, building on the previous day's 1.5 percent rise, and rebounding after a month-long sell-off on concerns that U.S. stimulus was to be wound down and China was plunging into a credit crisis.

An overnight pledge by the Chinese central bank to prevent any lasting credit crunch rekindled investor appetite at the open. This was further boosted by an assurance by the European Central Bank that an exit from its exceptional monetary policy measures remained distant.

Investors piled into sectors that depend on the health of global financial markets, such as European banks and insurers, up 2.2 percent and up 2.1 percent respectively, and also those that have suffered the most in the past month, such as healthcare and utilities.

"We're trickling a bit of additional money into equities now," said Stephen Walker, head of equities research and market strategy at Ashcourt Rowan, which manages 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) of assets.

"The market pullback has thrown up some opportunities."

Ashcourt Rowan has added to its holdings of stocks such as UK bank Barclays and insurer Old Mutual in the past week, taking advantage of price falls of around 20 percent since May and betting that any withdrawal of U.S. stimulus will be slower than the market fears.

Equities sold off heavily late last week after the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke set a timetable for the central bank to reduce the size of its bond-buying programme this year in light of stronger economic growth.

But Fed's policy makers have since downplayed any imminent end to the programme and softer-than-expected U.S. data on Wednesday was seen by some as a further reason to believe the U.S. central bank will be in no hurry to tighten its purse-strings.

"The outcomes of the new policy approach from central banks are difficult for markets to understand, so the sensitivity is understandable, but we think the nervousness has been exaggerated," said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of strategy at ING Investment Management.

ING, which manages about 184 billion euros ($239.2 billion) of assets, has increased its allocation to cyclical shares this month, focusing on banks, insurers, technology and consumer stocks.

It has avoided basic materials shares, which largely depend on Chinese demand and were the only sector to end lower on Wednesday.

The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 closed 2.3 percent higher at 2,602.81 points.

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