European shares stage cautious rally after Crimea vote

Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:32am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.6 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.8 pct

* FTSEurofirst rebounds from last week's falls

* Relief at peaceful passage of Crimea referendum

* Siemens leads Russia-exposed risers as sanctions awaited

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - European stocks nosed up on Monday with a major index recovering from its lowest level in more than a month after Sunday's referendum over whether Crimea will join Russia passed without violence and as anticipated sanctions have yet to materialise.

The FTSEurofirst 300 is 4.3 percent off its year-to-date high, and traders remain cautious given the lack of a long-term solution to the standoff between Russia and the West, as well as the impact of potential sanctions.

The index had its biggest loss since January last week ahead of the referendum, which Crimea's Moscow-backed leaders said showed an overwhelming majority in favour of quitting Ukraine and annexation by Russia.

The index had closed down 0.7 percent at 1,284.32 points on Friday - marking its lowest level since early February - as investors sought to reduce exposure ahead of the uncertainty of the weekend's referendum.

"People are not panicking. Much of the Crimea news had been priced in last week and the market is now just calming itself down," Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management, said.

The FTSEurofirst was up 0.6 percent to 1,291.60 by 0856 GMT.

Traders said that the market remained vulnerable, however, depending on the details of possible sanctions by the United States and the European Union that could possibly spark a spiral of economically damaging tit-for-tat measures.

Stocks in Russia rallied, and the relief rally in Europe was led by a handful of larger German stocks, with many DAX-listed firms having been hard hit by the crisis in Ukraine.

Siemens, which has substantial exposure to Russia and had fallen 6.4 percent over the last two weeks, was the top riser in Europe, up 3.2 percent, after JP Morgan and BofA Merrill Lynch upgrade the stock, to "overweight" and "buy" respectively from "neutral".

Austria's Raffeisen Bank, which has the highest percentage exposure to Ukraine in Europe, according to MSCI, rose 3 percent. It also has more than 20 percent exposure to Russia.

The EuroSTOXX 50 rose 0.8 percent to 3,029.37, with futures on the index up 0.9 percent to 3,029. Clive Lambert at FuturesTechs identified 3,021 as a resistance on the futures chart, and said that the recent falls meant that the medium-term trend looked bullish.

"If the bulls want to rescue this now would be a good time with some solid supports below."

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