* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, close to 4-1/2 yr highs
* Trade seen choppy on option expiry set for around 1015 GMT
* Credit Suisse upgrades year-end FTSE target to 7,000
* Bouygues Telecom rallies ahead of 4G switch
By David Brett
LONDON, March 15 European shares opened flat on
Friday, holding near recent highs thanks to central bank
stimulus and an improving U.S. economy on what could be a choppy
trading day due to a big options expiry.
By 0843 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.8 of a
point at 1,207.03, close to four-and-a-half year highs following
the previous day's sharp rally.
Traders said shares prices could be volatile as quarterly
and monthly futures and options expire, which means some
investors will rebalance their portfolios.
Technical indicators showed the FTSEurofirst 300 and
national indexes had stepped into "overbought" territory on the
14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI), a momentum indicator,
which led some traders to take profits.
"You have screaming bearish divergence signals on various
technical indicators such as the RSIs but it has been like that
for a while and the market just keeps pushing away to the
upside," Gerry Celaya, chief strategist at Red Tower Research,
Central bank stimulus was inflating share prices and U.S.
economic data was also benefiting the market, he said, pegging
the next target for Germany's DAX at 8,151 and for
Britain's FTSE 100 at 6,754, both indexes' 2007 peaks.
Credit Suisse repeated its bullish view on shares, keeping
its 4 percent "overweight" stance and raising its year-end FTSE
target to 7,000 from 6,600. The investment bank also sees a
funds flow squeeze into equities from both retail and
Among top gainers, France's Bouygues Telecom rose
7.3 percent after wining permission to re-use mobile spectrum
deployed for voice calls for fourth-generation mobile data
services as of Oct. 1, raising pressure on its competitors.
Broker upgrades propelled British Airways owner
International Airlines and temporary power provider
Aggreko 3.2 percent and 2.1 percent higher, while chip
designer ARM Holdings climbed 2.1 percent as broker
Jefferies upgraded the firm to "buy" from "hold".
Vivendi fell 4 percent after DirecTV, the
largest U.S. satellite television provider, ended its pursuit of
Swiss luxury chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli and
Budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz shed 2.1
percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, after results.
German carmaker Volkswagen slipped 2 percent on
talk Deutsche Bank was placing VW preference shares
in a price range of 156.25-160.25 euros, two traders
told Reuters on Friday.