* 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
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
"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
It has avoided basic materials shares, which largely
depend on Chinese demand and were the only sector to end lower
The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 closed 2.3 percent
higher at 2,602.81 points.