Vodafone, Carrefour help Europe shares halt sell-off

Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:48am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.5 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.3 pct

* Vodafone jumps after renewed Verizon talks

* Carrefour rises after sharp improvement in French sales

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Aug 29 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Thursday, snapping a sharp two-day drop, lifted by Vodafone shares surging on renewed talks with Verizon.

Corporate results were back at the forefront of investors' minds, with Carrefour surging 5.2 percent after the world's second biggest retailer posted a sharp improvement in earnings at its core French business.

Investors were also more open to buying as prospects of an imminent Western-led attack on Syria weakened.

Shares in the UK telecom firm jumped 8.5 percent after confirming talks with Verizon to buy Vodafone's 45 percent stake in their U.S. joint venture.

The news sparked a rally in the sector, with Telecom Italia up 2.9 percent, Orange up 2.8 percent and Deutsche Telekom up 1.4 percent.

At 0730 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,204.78 points, after losing 2 percent in two days.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was 0.3 percent at 2,750.96 points. The benchmark index sank as much as 3.6 percent in the past two sessions, before bouncing back on Wednesday on a strong support level, its 50-day moving average, at 2.720.57 points.

"The overall sentiment remains cautious, but the fact that military action against Syria doesn't look imminent anymore is prompting a number of investors to bet on a rebound at this point," said Guillaume Dumans, co-ahead of research firm 2Bremans.

U.S. plans for a limited military strike against Syria in response to last week's chemical weapons attack faced obstacles with British allies and U.S. lawmakers, which could delay any imminent action.

Smart card maker Gemalto rose 6 percent after reporting higher first-half sales and saying it expects double-digit expansion in profit.

With Europe's earnings season drawing to an end, about 55 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have met or beaten analysts forecasts, Thomson Reuters Starmine data shows, the best relative earnings season since the third quarter of 2012.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.4 percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.2 percent, and France's CAC 40 up 0.2 percent.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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