Adecco rallies as European shares advance

Thu May 8, 2014 3:46am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 pct in early trading

* Adecco and ProSieben rise after Q1 figures

* ECB seen keeping rates unchanged at 0.25 pct

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) - European stock markets rose on Thursday, lifted by reassuring business updates from some of the region's top companies such as Adecco and by better-than-expected Chinese trade figures.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which hit a near 6-year high of 1,357.05 points earlier this month, advanced by 0.4 percent to 1,350.61 points in early session trading.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also rose by 0.5 percent to 3,174 points while Germany's DAX progressed by 0.5 percent to 9,572.90 points.

Shares in Adecco, the world's largest staffing company and a barometer of Europe's economic health, rose 3 percent after Adecco said higher demand for its services in Germany and Britain had led to an increase in revenues.

German media group ProSiebenSat.1 also outperformed with a 4.4 percent rise after posting a 9.5 percent increase in first-quarter core earnings.

Data on Thursday also showed that China's exports and imports returned to slight growth in April, sending a positive signal for the world's second-biggest economy after a weaker-than-expected start to 2014.

According to Thomson Reuters StarMine, 50 percent of the companies on the pan-European STOXX 600 index to have reported first quarter earnings so far have beaten or met market expectations with those results.

"Generally speaking, the first quarter results so far have seemed pretty good," said Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths.

ECB RATE DECISION

Investors were also focusing on the European Central Bank's (ECB) interest rate decision later on Thursday.

The ECB was expected to take heart from signs of life in the euro zone economy and keep interest rates unchanged at 0.25 percent, resisting pressure to act in the face of a stronger euro currency and persistently low inflation.

UBS equity strategists said on Thursday they expected European equities to outperform in May and beat the UK stock market. "The region continues to benefit from a recovery in growth particularly the peripheral countries, easing credit spreads and subdued inflation," they wrote in a note.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by Mark Heinrich)