Philips leads European shares higher

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Paris - European shares inched higher on Monday in the last session of the quarter, as investors bet that a raft of US and European macroeconomic data this week will soothe worries over the pace of economic growth.

Among standout gainers, shares in Dutch conglomerate Philips gained 3.5 percent after saying it will merge its Lumileds LED components and automotive lighting divisions into a standalone subsidiary which could potentially be spun off.

Elsewhere, shares in Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems surged 5.4 percent after the firm said it has won two big US turbine orders.

By 09:46 SA time, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,374.60 points, clawing back some of its 1.7 percent loss last week.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index gained 0.4 percent to 3,241.65 points, bouncing off a support level tested last week, the index's 50-day moving average.

“A lot of investors have been waiting for a pull-back to increase their exposure to equities, so we're seeing a nice rebound this morning following last week's dip,” Saxo Bank trader Pierre Martin said.

“Many indexes tested support levels last week, and the fact that they were not broken is sending a positive signal.”

Investors will focus on Monday on euro zone inflation data for June, due at 11:00 SA time, which should show inflation stuck at 0.5 percent, the ninth consecutive month in the ECB's “danger zone” of below 1 percent.

European stocks have risen sharply since mid-March, boosted by expectations of support from new stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB), but retreated last week after downbeat US growth data and worries over violence in Iraq.

Last week was also marked by investment outflows, with European equity funds seeing redemptions of $1.6 billion, their biggest outflows in over a year, according to data from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

But despite the week's pull-back, investors remain positive on the longer-term. A Reuters poll released last week showed that investors are bullish on the outlook for European shares in the second half of the year, betting on them extending their rally, helped by the ECB's stimulus measures.

Around Europe on Monday, UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.6 percent, and France's CAC 40 up 0.2 percent. - Reuters

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