* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct on day
* Posts fourth consecutive weekly loss
* Low volumes exacerbate volatility
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, June 14 European shares finished firmer
on Friday, supported by signs of merger and acquisition activity
in the region and by weak U.S. economic data backing the case
for central bank stimulus.
Industrial output in the world's biggest economy
unexpectedly failed to grow last month and June consumer
sentiment fell short of expectations, allaying some of the
concerns about a possible early easing of the U.S. Federal
Reserve's equities-friendly stimulus programme.
The numbers helped the FTSEurofirst 300 regain some
poise to finish the volatile session 0.2 percent higher at
1,175.92 points. The modest rebound though was not enough to
prevent the pan-European index from posting its fourth weekly
loss in its longest down run since last spring.
"The problem is the markets are very thin so any kind of
moves are overly exaggerated ... (but) I remain cautiously
bullish," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.
"Everyone freaking out over the possibility that the Fed are
going to start pulling back on their asset purchases ... I don't
see them doing anything this year if economic data, like we've
had today, is not very inspiring. Why would they want to
jeopardise the economic growth that they do have?"
The recent weakness has encouraged some investors to dip
their toes into the sectors which have sold off heavily this
month, making them cheaper. Basic resources, which Citi
raised to "overweight" on valuation grounds, financial services
, real estate and autos all gained.
The top performers among individual stocks, though, were
boosted by prospects of merger and acquisition activity.
Elan added 8.4 percent after putting itself up for
sale following expressions of interest, as the Irish drug firm
seeks to fend off a hostile bid from Royalty Pharma.
"My view has always been that the Royalty offer that's on
the table doesn't reflect adequate value for long-term
shareholders, so any other possibility that can potentially
extract more value is good news," said Adrian Howd, analyst at
Nokia was the next biggest riser, up 4.7 percent
on a report that Siemens is in talks with
private-equity firms for a sale of their equipment joint venture
Nokia Siemens Networks.
Volumes were relatively light though, at just 83 percent of
the 90-day daily average, exacerbating the market's volatility
and signalling that investors were reluctant to put on big bets
before next week's Fed policy meeting .