European shares up, investors expect calming Draghi tone

Thu Jul 4, 2013 4:19am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 9.39 points at 1,160.29

* Europe looks for dovish Draghi to calm markets

* Worries remain over Portugal and Greece debt

* Easyjet rises as passenger numbers rise

By David Brett

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) - European shares climbed higher early on Thursday, recovering most of the losses incurred over the previous two sessions, as recent underperformers such as autos and miners rebounded.

The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 9.39 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,160.29, having fallen 1.1 percent since Tuesday, but political unrest in Egypt and debt concerns surrounding Greece and Portugal were likely to cap upside momentum.

Volumes were expected to be thin too, with the U.S. market closed on Thursday for the Independence Day holiday and ahead of rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England later in the session.

Although no policy change is expected from either central bank, investors will be looking to see if ECB President Mario Draghi sounds a dovish note to calm markets after bond yields in peripheral euro zone countries rose.

"I am expecting some healing words from Draghi, which should calm fears over the situations in Portugal and Greece because it is a very psychologically driven market," Rolf Bland, chief investment officer at VZ Vermogenszentrum in Zurich, said.

"I don't think any new stimulus measures will be on the table, but it is a question of words and making clear once again that everything will be done (to save the euro) and interest rates and policy will remain accommodative, which will be very helpful at this moment," he said.

Volatility - a crude gauge of investors fear - is up around 40 percent from levels in May, coinciding with a market which was precipitated by worries over stimulus measures being scaled back in the United States.

A bullish close in the United States on Wednesday, despite uncertainty in Europe, was also helping sentiment on Thursday as U.S. traders opted to take on more risk, in an expression of optimism over the state of the economy, in the last trading session ahead of important jobs data on Friday, traders said.

The top individual gainers on the FTSEurofirst 300 were driven by broker comment with French retailer Kering up 3.5 percent after Exane BNP Paribas raised its recommendation on the company to "outperform".

French catering and vouchers group Sodexo rallied 2 percent after JP Morgan upgraded its rating on the firm to "overweight".

UK-listed low-cost airline easyJet added 2.1 percent after announcing June passenger numbers were up 1.9 percent.

Separately, HSBC raised its target price on easyJet to 1,500 pence from 1,400 pence and made small upgrades to its forecasts, reflecting slightly faster growth, while repeating its "overweight" stance.