(Updates with closing levels)
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.7 pct, back at late July levels
* Forecast-beating German PMI eclipses recent soft patch
* Raiffeisen Bank jumps on reassuring comments on Russia
* Miners knocked lower by Chinese macro data
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Aug 21 European stocks ended higher on
Thursday, extending their sharp two-week rebound after
better-than-expected German private sector growth figures which
reassured investors about the outlook for Europe's biggest
economy following a soft patch.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
ended 0.7 percent higher at 1,355.09 points, reaching a level
not seen since late July.
Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI)
for Germany -- which tracks growth in the manufacturing and
service sectors that make up more than two-thirds of the economy
-- came at 54.9 for August, down from 55.7 in July but still
well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
Last week, GDP data showed Germany's economy suffered a
surprise contraction -- its first in more than a year -- in the
"It's a relief rally. There were concerns that the German
economy was going to suffer because of Ukraine-related issues,
but today's data shows that the economy is going to keep on
growing," Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC, said.
The FTSEurofirst 300 had lost as much as 7 percent between
late June and early August, hurt by worries the Ukrainian
conflict and tensions between the West and Moscow could derail
Europe's fragile economic recovery and hit corporate results.
Germany's DAX index, one of the European markets
hardest hit by worries over turmoil in Ukraine, had lost as much
as 11 percent in the sell-off.
The DAX gained 0.9 percent on Thursday, Britain's FTSE 100
index was up 0.3 percent and France's CAC 40
rose 1.2 percent.
For FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron, however, the market rebound
seen in the past two weeks remains fragile and European stocks
continued to underperform Wall Street.
"The 'long U.S. shares/short European shares' pairs trade
has worked well and this should continue for a while. European
indexes are still a good 6 to 8 percent below their recent peaks
while Wall Street benchmarks are at record highs," he said.
"Even though worries about Ukraine have eased a bit lately,
it still weighs on European stocks and particularly the DAX.
There won't be a real rebound until the end of the hostilities
or some kind of deal between Russia and Ukraine."
Shares in Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International
-- one of Europe's blue-chips with the biggest exposure to
Russia -- jumped 11 percent after saying it expected "no
significant impact" from Western sanctions against Moscow.
The stock had tumbled more than 30 percent between early
June and early August.
Shares in mining stocks bucked the trend after data showed
China's manufacturing activity hit a three-month low in August,
with shares in Rio Tinto down 0.7 percent and Anglo
American down 1.3 percent.
The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing
Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 from 51.7 in July, missing
economists' forecast of 51.5.
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 Atul Prakash in London; Editing by