* FTSEurofirst 300 closes up 0.3 pct at 1,281.09 points
* FTSEurofirst sets new 5-year high
* DAX touches new record high, IBEX around 2-year high
* Gains at SAP and Philips add most points to FTSEurofirst
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Reassuring earnings updates from blue-chip companies Philips and SAP enabled a key European equity index to hit a fresh 5-year high on Monday.
While some traders felt European equity markets could ease back in the next two to three weeks as investors look to cash in on the recent advance, the majority were forecasting a broad rally into the end of 2013.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.3 percent at 1,281.09 points to set a new 5-year closing high.
Germany’s DAX hit a fresh record high of 8,876.14 points before edging back to close flat at 8,867.22 points while Spain’s IBEX breached the 10,000 point level for the second straight session, rising 0.4 percent to 10,037.80 points to mark its highest level in more than 2 years.
Business software company SAP and consumer appliances group Philips added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300 index.
Philips rose 5.3 percent after reporting a near-tripling in third quarter net profit, while SAP gained 4.8 percent after it maintained its full-year outlook in spite of foreign exchange risks.
Although the European third-quarter results season is less than a tenth of the way through, the early numbers have been fairly positive, with earnings on average 3.3 percent above forecasts, in contrast to a broadly in-line performance in the United States, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
“Expectations weren’t that great but as long as companies are hitting their rough target, the market will take it well,” said Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities.
Equity markets touched new record highs last week after a last-minute U.S. fiscal deal averted the immediate risk of a U.S. sovereign default and ended the U.S. government’s partial shutdown.
The U.S. government’s partial shutdown had delayed the publication of economic data from the country. The delayed data is due to come out this week and some traders were reluctant to put on big bets ahead of their publication.
“I think a pullback is due. We’ve moved up a lot but it’s stalling up here. Over the next few days there could be some profit-taking and a bit of a correction,” said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.
Courtney-Cook said any pullback over the next 2-3 weeks could push the DAX back down to the 8,600 point level, but he advocated using any dips in the market to buy up equities.
Investors with a longer-term outlook also expected equity markets to rally further.
“If you look at equities versus the alternatives it’s still a good long term bet and people are buying into the strength,” said Pieter Fourie, head of global equities at Sanlam Private Investments, whose top picks include luxury goods group LVMH .