European shares stage late recovery, boosted by Vodafone

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 29, 2013 15:30 hrs

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.8 percent

* Vodafone rises 8.5 pct on Verizon talks, telecoms rally

* Sentiment improves as potential Syrian attack delayed

By Tricia Wright and David Brett

LONDON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Bumper gains among telecom stocks powered a rebound in European shares in late trade on Thursday after Vodafone confirmed it was in talks with Verizon to sell out of its U.S. joint venture.

The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.8 percent at 1,208.20 points by 1455 GMT, led by a 3.5 percent rise in telecoms stocks. The index had dropped some 2 percent in the last two days.

Vodafone jumped 8.5 percent after saying it was in talks with Verizon to sell its 45 percent stake in their U.S. joint venture Verizon Wireless, for what a Bloomberg report said would be about $130 billion.

"Base case assumptions here remain that Vodafone stock trades around 220-225 pence on a firm announced deal, so it gives some 15 pence of upside from current levels," Simon Maughan, analyst at Olivetree Financial Group said.

Vodafone's share price surge represented a rise of 8.3 billion pounds ($12.9 billion) in the market capitalisation of the group, which is the fourth biggest UK company by market value after Royal Dutch Shell , HSBC and BHP Billiton.

The news sparked a rally in the sector, with Telecom Italia up 1.8 percent, Orange up 1.6 percent and Deutsche Telekom rising 1.2 percent. The STOXX Europe 600 telecom sector index gained 3.5 percent, its biggest one-day rise in more than two years.

The prospect of U.S.-led military action in Syria has taken its toll on market sentiment in the past few days, fuelling worries about Middle Eastern crude supply.

But investors were more open to buying on Thursday as prospects of an imminent Western-led attack on Syria lessened, and as some started to take the view that any military intervention would be unlikely to have a huge impact on the global economy.

Data showed the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the second quarter.

This caused the index to pare back its gains as stronger U.S. economic growth could encourage the U.S. Federal Reserve to scale back stimulus more quickly, but it later recovered its upward momentum.

"If the markets do go down on the back of Fed tapering fears or now on this Syria thing I'd be stepping in and buying," Paul Jackson, strategist at Societe Generale, said.

Jackson reckoned that while there will be a period of market uncertainty when the Fed starts to scale back its stimulus, this will prove short-lived, and that even if there is military intervention in Syria, it will be a "storm in a teacup".

"You may get Brent going up to $125 which I don't think is enough for me to change my view on the world."

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