* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct
* Aegon buoyed by share buyback plan
* Oil prices rise as violence in Iraq continues
* Ct Suisse upgrades energy equity sector to "benchmark"
* Investors eyeing Fed meeting later on Wednesday
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, June 18 European stock markets edged up
on Wednesday to go back within reach of multi-year highs reached
last week, with insurer Aegon rallying after
announcing a share buyback programme.
However, gains on the stock markets were capped as investors
awaited the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy
meeting later in the day.
The Fed is widely expected to cut another $10 billion from
its monthly bond purchases, while investors will also be
watching for any comments on when the Fed will begin to raise
interest rates and its outlook for the economy.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up by
0.2 percent at 1,390.59 points in mid-session trading, putting
the index back in touching distance of a 6-1/2 year high of
1,398.65 points reached last week.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
also advanced by 0.3 percent to 3,285.28 points.
Aegon was the top performer, in percentage terms, on the
FTSEurofirst 300 index.
Aegon rose 2.7 percent, which traders attributed to the
company's announcement late on Tuesday - after markets had
closed - of a share buyback programme.
"Aegon is cleaning up its balance sheet, and this share
buyback should also help," said Clairinvest fund manager
Ion-Marc Valahu, whose portfolio includes Aegon shares.
OIL SHARES RISE
Shares in oil groups, such as Royal Dutch Shell and
BP, also rose as the Brent crude price advanced
towards $114 a barrel as Sunni militants pushed forward in
northern Iraq, striking a key refinery near Baghdad and stoking
worries about oil exports from the key producer.
Credit Suisse strategists upgraded their position on the
global energy equity sector to "benchmark" for the first time in
six years, citing expectations of a rise in the oil price and
improving corporate earnings in the sector.
"Earnings revisions are at their strongest for 18 months,
marginally above the market, and the 10 percent gap between the
spot and consensus oil price suggests this should continue,"
said Andrew Garthwaite, head of global equity strategy at Credit
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)