European shares rise on emerging market boost

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 22, 2012 18:00 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.6 pct, STOXX 600 up 0.6 pct

* STOXX 600 charts show buying momentum building up

* Strong Chinese data boosts mining stocks

* SABMiller lifted by emerging market growth

* Volume light as Wall St shut for Thanksgiving

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - European shares rose for a fourth consecutive session in thin volume on Thursday as strong Chinese data and results from SABMiller encouraged some investors to bet on a continuation of the recent bounce.

SABMiller was the top riser, adding 6.9 percent in volume three times the average after the world's second-biggest brewer reported strong growth in Africa and Latin America, which it expects to continue.

Heavyweight basic resources stocks were also well bid, up 0.7 percent, after a Chinese private manufacturing index hit a 13-month high, a sign that the pace of economic growth has revived in the world's largest consumer of metals.

"Any time you get positive data out of China and potential for sustained demand, the natural thing is to pick up some mining stocks," Oliver Stansfied, director of equity sales at Fox Davies.

He also flagged interest in UK oil major BG Group, up 1.2 percent to 1,230 pence, as the shares successfully rebounded from a two-year low of 990 pence but still looked cheap compared to a 1,350 pence price before the group issued a profit warning earlier this month.

They helped the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index index close 0.6 percent higher 1,103.43 points - up 3.4 percent since last Friday, the best weekly performance since February - albeit in low volume of 67 percent the average as Wall Street was shut for Thanksgiving Holiday.

Weekly technical charts on the broader STOXX 600 index showed buying momentum was piling up after the index's Relative Strength Index bounced off a line connecting lows hit last June and in September 2011.

"If we close at current levels tomorrow that will probably lead to a test of the multiple tops that you have seen during Q3 and Q4 (at 276 points)," Anders Soderberg, a technical analyst at SEB in Stockholm.

"It might well find strength enough to move to a marginal new high somewhere around 280 or slightly above that."

Barring a break above the index's 2011 high at 300, which would trigger further gains, Soderberg believed the index was still bound to move sideways and test its 2012 lows in the 235-240 area early next year.


Longer-term investors saw value in European shares next year as bond purchases from central banks pushed bond yields down and an intervention pledge by the ECB eased the risk of a euro break-up.

"Bonds look very unattractive and we're quite positive on core European equities at the moment," Jason Hollands, managing director at Bestinver, said.

"Notwithstanding the ongoing economic challenges, we feel that there are many high-quality global brands that happen to be domiciled in Europe."

He flagged Swiss food maker Nestle as one of them, while he recommended steering clear of Europe's debt-laden periphery.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch also recommended buying U.S., UK and continental European equities this year, although they warned a rally into the end of the year would depend on good economic data and a positive outcome to budget talks in the United States.

The bank tipped hedging long positions with shorts on the European insurance sector, which has rallied 35 percent since June, and options to sell the S&P 500.

The more positive investor attitude towards Europe was also reflected gap by a narrowing gap between U.S. and European equity valuations.

According to Thomson Reuters Datastream, the broad STOXX 600 trades at 11 times its 12-month forward earnings, versus a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.1 for Wall Street's S&P 500.

A gap of 1.16 between the two ratios is the smallest since May 2006, before the start of the financial crisis in 2007, and well below a 10-year average gap of 1.93.

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