Miners lead European shares higher on stimulus expectations

Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:29pm EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.7 percent

* Stimulus expectations remain after Spain jobless data

* Kazakhmys up after update as miners rally

* Randstad boosted by Europe staffing improvement

* Asset managers climb as equities rise

By David Brett

LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - Demand for equities remained robust as Europe's top shares rose for the fifth straight session on Thursday, supported by central bank stimulus and boosted by results and M&A speculation.

The FTSEurofirst 300 climbed 8.82 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,200.64, heading back towards five-year highs of 1,207 seen in late March.

Recent weak global economic data including record-high jobless figures from Spain on Thursday has sparked expectations of more stimulus from central banks.

"Overall investors see the potential for new measures and the distortion of global valuations as a reason to hold dogmatically onto their equities," said Guy Foster, head of portfolio strategy at Brewin Dolphin.

"Shares are seen as a yield asset class with risks skewed to the upside. Bonds have lost their appeal for the opposite reason."

Low returns on top-rated government bonds are leading central banks to take on more risk in their reserve portfolios, with almost two-thirds more inclined to invest in equities compared with a year ago, a survey showed.

The prospect of more efforts to stimulate the economy helped lift heavily shorted miners, which climbed 2.4 percent, tracking higher commodity prices.

"Commodities are up, shorts had been accumulated in resources, energy and cyclicals and this is reversing, plus one or two companies are beating numbers," OliveTree Financial Group strategist Simon Maughan said.

Kazakh-focused miner Kazkhmys rallied 4.3 percent after first-quarter copper output rose almost 12 percent year-on-year.

Kazakhmys' update helped boost troubled part-owner ENRC , which is being formally investigated by Britain's Serious Fraud Office on allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption.

ENRC, which is the second most-shorted stock on the FTSE 100 according to data from Markit and the subject of a potential bid from a group of key shareholders, rose 3 percent.

The mining sector remains down about 15 percent so far this year as broader concerns over profits, costs and demand from China weigh on the sector.

RANDSTAD RALLY

Dutch staffing firm Randstad rallied 7.8 percent on signs of recovery in Spain and Portugal in recent weeks, and an improvement in other European markets.

Meanwhile persistent bid speculation helped heavyweight British mobile telecoms firm Vodafone add 1.7 percent.

Reports said Verizon Communications has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from its UK partner.

Fiat climbed 3.8 percent after reports the Italian car maker is getting closer to tightening its grip on Chrysler and listing a merged group in New York.

With equities in demand, financial services firms, which include asset managers such as Aberdeen and Provident Financial, rose 1.7 percent.