* FTSEurofirst 300 4.70 points at 1,272.79
* Luxury goods rebound after China GDP
* Expectations for longer liquidity in US supports equities
By David Brett
LONDON, Oct 18 Robust Chinese growth data helped
drive European equities higher early on Friday, with
expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus in place
following the U.S. fiscal standoff also supporting demand.
The world's second biggest economy grew 7.8 percent in the
third quarter as forecast by analysts, allaying concerns of a
sharper slowdown, although China warned of slowing momentum in
the fourth quarter.
The personal and household goods sector, which
includes the likes of Burberry and LVMH, both
under pressure recently after warning of slowing sales momentum
in China, was the top sectoral gainer, up 1 percent.
By 0734 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was up 4.70
points or 0.4 percent at 1,272.79. Wall Street had gained
overnight as equity markets sought to recover momentum lost
during the extended government shutdown and political wrangling
over the budget and debt limit in the United States.
"We are quite positive because (the U.S. budget standoff) is
just postponing the end of quantitative easing (which has been
among the main drivers of equities over the past 2 years)," said
Claudia Panseri, global equity strategist at Societe Generale
"That said, liquidity is likely to support the equity
markets more than growth because growth is still not there. So
liquidity is a positive element."
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up for a seventh
successive day, its longest winning streak this year.
The prospect of more liquidity for longer has been reflected
in the softening of 10-year yields on safe-haven government
debt. Yields on U.S., German and British bonds had spiked ahead
of the Fed meeting in September at which it was widely expected
the U.S. central bank would begin to wind down its bond-buying.
The insurance sector made healthy gains. Prudential
rose 3 percent with traders citing decent numbers
overnight from Asian rival AIA.
Swedish hygiene and paper products maker SCA
topped the list of European risers, gaining 5.2 percent after
posting higher than expected third-quarter core earnings.
Elevator-maker Schindler rose 4.5 percent after it
said it was launching a public repurchase offer for up to 5.8
percent of its registered shares and up to 8.9 percent of
participation certificates in issue at a fixed price.
On the downside, Grifols fell 3.3 percent after
investment bank UBS said it was to sell 2.72 percent of the
blood products firm to institutional investors.
And Gecina dropped 3 percent after Grupo Prasa
announced it is placing a 1.3 percent stake in the property
group at 94.75 euros, below Thursday's closing price of 99.93
euros, traders said. GFCP.PA