* FTSEurofirst 300 gains 0.8 percent
* European stocks shrug off vague Fed minutes
* Ahold leads gainers after profit beat
* Chinese and German PMI data supports market
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, Aug 22 European shares gained in early
trade on Thursday, boosted by decent corporate results and PMI
data after the U.S. Federal Reserve provided no further guidance
over the status of its stimulus programme.
Dutch retailer Ahold was the top FTSEurofirst 300
gainer, up 4.7 percent, after reporting higher-than-expected
operating profit for the second quarter.
The results helped the European market to shrug off weakness
in Asian stocks, which fell after the Fed's minutes offered
little clarity over the timetable for a slowdown of its stimulus
programme, prompting strengthening in the dollar.
"With emerging markets getting hammered, that's been
something that's helped keep up developed markets, because money
has been leaving emerging markets," Will Hedden, sales trader at
"If the Fed have given us nothing from these minutes, then
we've got to assume that at the next meeting they're going to be
a bit more candid about the plan, so there's a couple of weeks
to prepare yourself and not make any rash decisions."
The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.7 percent at 0800
GMT, putting a halt to three straight days of falls. The index
remains 4 percent off a five-year high hit in May, when fears
over stimulus reduction first hit the market.
Ahold's results were among the last of the earnings season,
one which has been a little better than last time around.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine, 90 percent of companies
on the STOXX Europe 600 have reported second-quarter
results, of which 46 percent have missed expectations, while the
rest have met or beaten. In the previous quarter, 48 percent
companies missed forecasts.
Supporting the market was the mining sector, up 0.6 percent
after flash PMI data out of China pointed to a stabilising
growth picture, with the manufacturing sector at a 4-month high.
Stocks bounced after German PMI also painted a stronger
picture of its economy, coming in ahead of expectations and
combining with the bullish data out of China to help to
counteract a weaker PMI picture in France.