REFILE-European shares lifted by earnings and economic data

Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:06am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 7.21 points at 1,214.37

* Tech stocks boosted by Apple, ARM results

* EasyJet rallies after lifting guidance

* French, German data brightens economic outlook

* China manufacturing data dents miners and autos

By David Brett

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - European shares rose early on Wednesday as investors digested a wealth of corporate earnings, with technology stocks boosted by strong results from U.S. tech giant Apple, and more upbeat economic data in Europe.

By 0733 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was up 7.21 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,214.37, and is now up 8.5 percent since hitting June lows.

"This rally appears to be being driven by the sight of companies beating lowered earnings targets, and markets staying exuberant because they've navigated a lower bar," Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, said.

Technology stocks were given a lift after Apple posted better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and revenues, although both were down year-on-year.

ARM, which designs chips for use in mobile computers and telephones including Apple's iPhone, rose 2.3 percent after the UK-based firm beat expectations for its second quarter with a 30 percent rise in adjusted pretax profit.

Low-cost airline easyJet was a runaway success, rising 7.6 percent and lifting the broader travel and leisure sector by 1.4 percent after issuing stronger-than-expected full-year profit guidance.

Twenty percent of companies in Europe have reported second quarter earnings. Of those, 53 percent beat or met expectations, while 47 percent missed. For the former, shares have risen 7.2 percent on average over the last 30 days and for the latter they were up 4.7 percent - yet year-on-year Q2 growth is down 6.5 percent, according to Starmine data.

There were signs of improving economic conditions in Europe though, which should feed through to company results.

France showed its services and manufacturing activity shrank at a slower pace than expected in June, while Germany's private sector expanded for a third consecutive month in July.

The improvement in Europe overshadowed worries in China where manufacturing slowed to an 11-month low.

China's slowdown, however, was reflected in Apple's results overnight and was a factor weighing on basic resources and auto-related stocks in Europe on Tuesday, with both sectors lagging broader market gains.

China too will be a focus in GlaxoSmithKline's results due out at 1100 GMT with the drugmaker engulfed in a bribery scandal in the country.

"Glaxo's results will be looked at probably more for news about the shenanigans in China rather than actual profits," Ronnie Chopra, head of strategy at Tradenext, said, but warned broader equity markets could be vulnerable to some profit-taking given recent gains.

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