Ryanair propels European shares to five-year highs
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 percent
* Travel and autos the top sectoral gainers
* DAX outperforms, IBEX lags on technical signals
* Miners drag as metal prices weaken
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - European shares reached new five-year peaks on Monday, supported by strength in the autos and travel sector, where budget airline Ryanair's stock hit a record high on the back of strong earnings.
Travel and leisure stocks gained 1.1 percent, led by a 6.9 percent jump in Ryanair after it reported expectation-beating earnings for the past year.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,252.09, its highest close since June 2008. Trading was quiet because stock markets in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Norway were shut for a holiday.
Car makers were the biggest sectoral gainers. They rose 2.3 percent to take gains since Friday to 5.3 percent, when the European car market snapped an 18-month streak of contraction.
Car makers such as Volkswagen BMW and Daimler joined airline Lufthansa as the strongest gainers on the outperforming German blue-chip DAX index, which rose 0.7 percent after it bounced off strong support at 8,400.
"The 8,400 (level on the DAX) was previously resistance, and it has bounced off it today. If it breaks below there we could see more selling, but for today it was a good place to buy the dips," Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at GFT, said.
In contrast, the Spanish IBEX suffered from profit-taking after it breached but failed to hold above its March high.
"Looking at the IBEX index, however, the 8,600 level has been a resistance which it has struggled to get through, and so we're seeing some profit-taking at these levels," Razaqzada said.
Miners were the biggest drag on European shares on a sectoral basis, with gold miners down due to concerns over the gold price and industrial unrest.
"The main drag has been the basic resource sector as commodity prices once again come under pressure as concerns about falling prices and higher unit labour costs in South Africa weigh on the downside," Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, said.
STOXX 600 Basic Resources companies, mainly populated by miners, fell 0.5 percent. ENRC was one of the biggest fallers in response to uncertainty over the price of a potential takeover.
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