European shares head towards best week in eight months
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct * On track for biggest weekly gain since April * Carnival rallies as results prompt broker upgrades By Toni Vorobyova LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - European equities edged higher on Friday, staying on track for their best week in eight months as Carnival cashed in on forecast-beating results and broad sentiment was boosted by greater clarity on U.S. monetary policy. The Federal Reserve this week trimmed monthly bond purchases by $10 billion, sugar-coating the reduced stimulus with a signal that interest rates were likely to stay ultra low for longer than previously expected. Although the taper came earlier than many had forecast, markets had plenty of time to prepare for the move - first flagged in May - and the Fed's decision removed the policy uncertainty that had kept many investors on the sidelines. "It is still highly accommodative policy from the Fed," said Ioan Smith, strategist at KCG. "People have adopted the attitude that OK, they are tapering but it's probably more of a symbolic gesture than anything else." With European equity investors already sitting on gains of nearly 30 percent from the past two years, traders said many had already closed their books for 2013, with few willing to gamble their profits in the final days of the year. "It will be low volume, low volatility and going slightly higher," said Peter Garnry, strategist at Saxo Bank. The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 0.2 percent to 1,284.24 points by 1127 GMT. That takes its gains so far this week to 3.3 percent - on track for its biggest weekly rise since April. Carnival was one of the top risers, up 6.1 percent and on track for its biggest one day gain in over two years, after several brokers upgraded the cruise ship operator following forecast-beating quarterly results the previous day. "We have been hoping that new CEO Arnold Donald could be a change agent and it appears that CCL is making some positive steps towards a business transformation. Additionally, following a better than expected Q4 and 2014 guidance, now is the right time to get onboard," analysts at Credit Suisse said in a note, upgrading it to 'outperform' from 'neutral'. Volumes on Carnival topped their 90-day daily average less than halfway through the session, compared to around 57 percent on the FTSEurofirst 300. The rally pushed Carnival shares to three-month highs, breaking above technical resistance at the 200-day moving average. The charts outlook also brightened for the broader market, opening the door for more gains on EuroSTOXX 50 index of euro zone blue-chips, last flat at 3,032.14 points. "Thursday's gains prompted a bullish crossover on the daily MACD study, and with the broader uptrend remaining intact we see strength extending in the coming year," said Chris Wright, technical analyst at Informa Global Markets.