LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) - European shares rose for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, as bumper gains for asset managers benefiting from this year's equity rally lifted financial stocks.
Fund managers and traders said that even if there was a near-term pull back, it would not be enough to prevent European equity markets from gradually rising higher over the course of the year.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.6 percent at 1,193.40 points, pushing the index back towards a 4-1/2 year peak of 1,209.05 points reached last month.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 also advanced 0.6 percent to 2,677.49 points.
The STOXX Europe 600 Financial Services Index was the best-performing sector, as a 12.9 percent surge in fund manager Ashmore on news it had drawn in more new client money than expected, lifted other asset management stocks.
Jean-Luc Eyssautier, senior product specialist at Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) Investment Management, said equities remained well-placed for more gains, despite a weak economic outlook in Europe caused by the region's sovereign debt crisis.
"Economic data in Europe remains negative and many do not share the ECB (European Central Bank) president's optimism of some growth in 2013. However, sovereign bond spreads continue to decline and flows continue to go in the direction of equities," he said.
"We believe 2013 will be a bumpy year, but one where ultimately equities should close higher."