* FTSEurofirst 300 on track for seventh day of gains
* Speculation about new ECB measures buoys European stocks
* Nestle and Deutsche Post add most points to FTSEurofirst
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 2 Gains at food group Nestle
and Deutsche Post propped up European
shares on Wednesday, with a pan-European equity index on track
for its seventh day of gains.
The possibility of new stimulus measures from the European
Central Bank when it meets on Thursday also helped to lift
European stock markets.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index edged up by
0.1 percent to 1,342.21 points in late-session trading, putting
it on track to extend a winning streak into a seventh straight
day. Nestle rose 1.9 percent rise and Deutsche Post 4.4 percent;
together they added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300.
Nestle was boosted by brokerage Bernstein's decision to
raise its rating on the stock to "outperform" from "market
perform." Deutsche Post gained after it said it expected profits
to increase through to 2020.
"European equities are set to give good returns this year.
Flows have turned positive, GDP should grow by at least 1
percent and corporate profits by around 10 percent," said Philip
Dicken, head of European equities at Threadneedle Investments.
"A weaker euro, which is a likely result of looser European
monetary policy, will boost profits further."
NEW ECB ACTION?
The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 16 percent in 2013 to post its
best annual gain since 2009. The index reached 1,353.47 points -
its highest level since May 2008 - in late January this year.
Concerns about a slump in emerging markets, coupled with
worries about geopolitical tensions between Russia and Western
powers over Ukraine, have pushed European equities down from
multi-year highs over the last two months.
Speculation the ECB will take new steps on Thursday to
strengthen the region's fragile economic recovery could give
European stock markets a lift, traders said.
Andrea Williams, European equities fund manager at Royal
London Asset Management, said the ECB could introduce negative
deposit rates or other measures to help the region's smaller
companies get access to lending.
Lorne Baring, managing director of wealth management firm B
Capital, also said there was a good chance of stocks getting
some "tailwind" from the ECB on Thursday.
"It's not possible to predict if it will be this Thursday,
but we imagine that in Q2 or Q3 there is a good possibility of
further monetary stimulus from the ECB, and we think that will
take the form of negative overnight rates," he said.
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 Francesco Canepa and Alistair Smout;
Editing by Larry King)