UPDATE 1-French market leads European shares near 2-1/2 month highs
* FTSEurofirst 300 ends up 0.3 pct, near 2-1/2 month highs
* France's CAC-40 outperforms other major European markets
* Economic recovery buoys European stock markets
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - European shares rose back towards 2-1/2 month highs on Wednesday, led by gains on the French stock exchange, as the region's markets were buoyed by data showing the euro zone had emerged from recession.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up by 0.3 percent at 1,240.30 points, putting the index near its highest level since late May and back within touching distance of 5-year highs of 1,258.09 points reached in May.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also advanced by 0.4 percent to 2,852.08 points while France's CAC-40 index outperformed other major European markets with a 0.5 percent rise that put the CAC at a 2-year high.
Traders said European stock markets had been boosted by data on Wednesday which showed that the economies of Germany and France - the euro zone's two powerhouses - had grown faster than expected in the second quarter.
"French GDP (gross domestic product) was better than expected, and there is some talk of global money arriving in Europe as Europe claws its way out of recession," said Rupert Baker, a European equity sales executive at Mirabaud.
Cyrille Urfer, head of asset allocation at Swiss bank Gonet, said he was sticking to an 'overweight' position on Europe equities and would look to cash in profits on the U.S equity market rally rather than the European one.
European equities are still lagging the U.S stock markets which have hit record highs, and several investors are looking to sell out for a profit due to expectations that later this year the U.S. Federal Reserve will scale back economic stimulus measures that had driven much of this year's equity rally.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index is up around 9 percent since the start of 2013, while the U.S Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes have risen nearly 20 percent.
"If we had to take profits at this stage, it would be more in the U.S. rather than in Europe. We feel there is still more juice left in Europe," said Urfer.
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