LONDON, April 24 European shares chalked up a fourth straight session of gains on Wednesday, helped by some upbeat corporate results and mounting speculation about further easing of monetary policy in the euro zone.
British insurer Standard Life and Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins led gainers, surging 8.3 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, after announcing strong first-quarter numbers.
They topped the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index , which provisionally closed 0.7 percent higher at 1,191.64 points.
The index extended gains in afternoon trade as dovish comments by the European Central Bank's Vice President, Vitor Costancio, fuelled trader talk of an interest rate cut next week to stimulate the economy after weak German data earlier on Wednesday.
The FTSEurofirst 300 has been swinging in a 4 percent range this month as mixed economic reports were countered by central bank stimulus expectations and some stronger-than-expected earnings.
"We feel the pull backs in equity markets are likely to be frequent and ongoing but shallow and short lived," Oliver Wallin, investment director at Octopus Investments, said.
"In Europe, we simply feel there is more risk and so are more wary, hence (we have a) slight underweight. However, ... the ECB continue to provide the support."