* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.2 percent
* Mirrors gains in U.S. equities
* Travel shares down as Ryanair slides
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - European shares closed slightly
firmer after choppy trading on Wednesday, helped by a rally in
U.S. technology stocks while geopolitical concerns kept gains in
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,214.96 points after falling to a
low of 1,204.77 points.
"We have seen some buying momentum in beaten-down stocks,
but the market will continue to be dominated by the Syrian issue
in the coming sessions," Tom Robertson, senior trader at Accendo
"A limited U.S.-led military strike is factored in but some
investors also fear that the situation could dramatically change
once the attack begins," he said.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama won backing for a
strike from key Congress figures and Russia said it did not rule
out agreeing to military action if Damascus were proven to have
carried out a chemical weapons attack there.
However, a sharp drop in Italian equities on domestic
political uncertainty and weaker travel stocks after a Ryanair
profit warning limited the broader market's gains.
Italy's FTSE MIB fell 1.4 percent on concerns over
the government's survival, with some papers saying former Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who faces possible eviction from the
Senate on a tax fraud conviction, was considering withdrawing
his party's support from the government.
Among sectoral movers, the STOXX Europe 600 Travel and
Leisure index fell 1.6 percent, the worst performer,
after Europe's biggest budget airline, Ryanair, said it could
miss its annual profit target for the first time in a decade on
lower demand and a weaker pound.
Ryanair shares fell 13.4 percent.
"Uncertainty over a high oil price will mean further pain
for under-pressure profit margins for any budget airline ...
I've seen a lot of risk taken off the board simply because of
the uncertainty surrounding Syria," said Jordan Hiscott, trader
at Gekko Global Markets.
Crude oil prices have surged more than 4 percent in
Technical analysts said the stock market would remain
supported at some key levels.
Petra Kerssenbrock, technical analyst at Commerzbank, said
the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was
likely to find support at its 100-day moving average at around
2,728, with the latest moves seen as a continued consolidation
of the market's strong June-August rally.
The Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.2 percent at 2,758.29
points after falling to a low of 2,725.56 earlier.