European shares rise as ARM gets new iPhone boost
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 3.89 points at 1,247.49
* ARM rallies as Apple unveils new iPhones
* Gemalto hit as iPhones do not include NFC
* Markets could wobble approaching stimulus wind-down
By David Brett
LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - European shares scaled fresh highs on Wednesday with chip designer ARM Holdings leading the gainers on expectations of a boost to earnings after its partner Apple unveiled two new iPhones.
ARM's shares rallied 4.6 percent after Apple revealed a new flagship phone using the British designer's latest technology.
"It is the first handset that has ARM's latest generation technology ... So, it's very positive for ARM to get (its) 64-bit (processor) into one of the highest volume and highest value markets, which is the handset market," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Dunn.
The release of Apple's new phone was not such good news for European company Gemalto, however, which saw its shares fall 4.6 percent on disappointment that the new device does not have NFC (near-field communication) technology.
Broader European indexes just about managed to maintain the momentum which has built up in September, as the threat of a U.S. military strike on Syria has subsided and recent data pointed to a more sustainable global economic recovery.
The VIX index, a crude gauge of investor fear, has declined 15 percent in the month-to-date.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 3.89 points at 1,247.49, while the broader STOXX 600 rose 0.96 of a point to 310.76, by 1030 GMT.
The euro zone blue chip index, meanwhile, hit fresh two-year highs intraday at 2,863.53.
Recent gains in European equities, however, have left stocks trading well above long-term averages.
The STOXX 600 is trading on a forward 12-month price-to-earnings of 12.8 times, compared with its 10-year average of 11.9 times, according to Datastream, and this has occurred against a backdrop of earnings downgrades.
With investors waiting for earnings to pick up and the impact of likely stimulus withdrawal in the United States unclear, equity markets could struggle to make further gains in the near term.
Richard Buxton, fund manager at Old Mutual Global Investors, sees the FTSE 100, for instance, remaining in the 6,200-6,800 range for the balance of the year.
"Short-term concerns (such as the winding down of stimulus in the United States) may trigger an autumn equity market wobble, but the overall trend of improving profitability bodes well," he said, anticipating the FTSE 100 trading range to potentially move up to 6,500-7,300 in 2014.
Britain's FTSE 100 showed fatigue around the big figure at 6,600 on Wednesday, weighed on by retailer Kingfisher which fell 2 percent - having rallied 45 percent in the last six months - after its profits edged lower in difficult markets.
Germany's DAX was again attempting to close above August highs, which it failed to do on Tuesday.
Longer-term, however, the technical picture remained bullish for European shares.
"The STOXX 600 index is in a technical bull market. It was in a trend-confirming consolidation during the last month on expectations that it will break to the upside," said Achim Matzke, strategist at Commerzbank, adding however that the index might face resistance at around 310-314, its high in May.
He said the Euro STOXX 50 could struggle to convincingly break the resistance level of 2,850, an area where it failed last month. "But our expectations are that it will be able to cross the level this time."
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