European shares supported by weak U.S. data

LONDON, June 14 Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:33am EDT

LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - European shares finished firmer on Friday, supported by signs of merger and acquisition activity in the region and by weak U.S. economic data backing the case for continued central bank stimulus.

Industrial output in the world's biggest economy unexpectedly failed to grow last month and June consumer sentiment fell short of expectations, allaying some of the concerns about a possible early easing of the U.S. Federal Reserve's equities-friendly stimulus programme.

The numbers helped FTSEurofirst 300 regain some poise to provisionally finish the volatile session 0.2 percent higher at 1,176.07 points. The modest rebound though was not enough to prevent the pan-European index from posting its fourth weekly loss in its longest down run since last spring.

"The problem is the markets are very thin so any kind of moves are overly exaggerated ... (but) I remain cautiously bullish," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.

"Everyone freaking out over the possibility that the Fed are going to start pulling back on their asset purchases  I don't see them doing anything this year if economic data, like we've had today, is not very inspiring. Why would they want to jeopardise the economic growth that they do have?"