Healthcare sector leads European share bounce

LONDON, April 8 Mon Apr 8, 2013 11:37am EDT

LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) - European shares were led higher by the healthcare sector on Monday as investors tiptoed back into the market with a cautious focus on the start of the U.S. first-quarter earnings season.

The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed up 0.2 percent at 1,163.96 points, in the aftermath of Friday's 1.6 percent drop on weak U.S. jobs figures. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 advanced 0.1 percent to 2,587.72 points.

Traders noted a lack of conviction on Monday - evidenced by low volumes - with some investors apprehensive before the start of the U.S. earnings season, which kicks off with first-quarter results from aluminium producer Alcoa later in the day.

The FTSEurofirst 300 traded just 67 percent of its 90-day daily average.

"I think the markets are taking stock and thinking what are company earnings forecasts (going to be like), what is the consensus going to be for forward P/Es (price/earnings ratios)," Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets, said.

Investors who dipped into the market opted for sectors better suited to a low growth environment such as healthcare , ahead 1 percent.

Drugmaker Novartis, up 1.8 percent, was among the biggest individual points contributors to the FTSEurofirst 300, helped by an upgrade on the stock from BofA Merrill Lynch to "neutral", according to traders.

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