European shares stage late recovery, end flat; Morrisons bounces

LONDON Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:39am EST

LONDON Feb 19 (Reuters) - European shares pared losses in late trade on Wednesday, tracking a rally in Wall Street, with WM Morrison gaining in the afternoon after a report that the grocer may be taken over by private-equity firms.

The FTSEurofirst 300 mounted a recovery in thin volumes to provisionally close up 0.1 percent at 1,338.27, as Wall Street turned higher after a cautious start before U.S. Federal Reserve minutes were released.

"We've seen the U.S. markets rally since they've opened, and Europe has followed suit. Investors are hoping that policy is going to be able to remain more supportive than some of the markets are giving it credit for," said Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG.

"We're not expecting tapering to come off the table, but Fed should not be getting any more hawkish then we've seen previously."

WM Morrison rallied 5 percent in just 10 minutes after Reuters reported that bankers are working on debt- financing packages of around 5 billion pounds ($8.35 billion) to back a sale of the British supermarket chain to private-equity funds.

"It seems like it's coming from a good source, and it'd been speculated for a few weeks. If you're going after one of the supermarkets, it's one of the easier targets ... and this is the first credible story that it's moving forward," Hedden said.

"People like the story, and we've seen a lot of buying on the back of it."

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