European shares edge higher, led by banks

LONDON Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:40am EST

LONDON Jan 27 (Reuters) - European shares edged up on Thursday, with U.S. earnings season helping to boost confidence among investors, and Spain's Banco Santander (SAN.MC) rising ahead of its results next week.

The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares rose 0.2 percent to a provisional close of 1,154.92 points after falling to a low of 1,150.12 earlier in the session.

Banks to gain included Banco Santander, Intesa SanPaolo (ISP.MI) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), up between 3.3 and 4.9 percent.

"The market has been pretty resilient, though some of the data has been variable," said Bill Dinning, head of strategy at Aegon Asset Management in Edinburgh.

"Corporate earnings season has been pretty good. But there is a lot of complacency -- investors began the year feeling good about the trends after a good December. The macro backdrop may give further cause for concern -- there is still some fragility, and it will challenge the benign view."

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as harsh weather conditions in some parts of the country kept workers at home and caused a backlog in the processing of claims. [ID:nN27254285]

(Reporting by Brian Gorman)

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