* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, ESTOXX 50 up 0.3 pct
* Rise in Bayer adds most points to FTSEurofirst
* Spain's IBEX falls 0.6 pct to underperform broader rally
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Feb 28 Gains at major German drugmaker
Bayer helped to prop up European equities on Friday,
although weak earnings in Spain hit the Madrid market.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.2
percent to 1,347.93 points in late session trading. The euro
zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index advanced 0.3
percent to 3,144.77 points.
A 2 percent rise at Bayer, after Bayer lifted its estimate
for potential sales of new drugs, added the most points to the
FTSEurofirst 300. That helped Germany's DAX
rise 0.8 percent to 9,667.67 points, putting it back in
sight of its January record high of 9,794.05 points.
However, Spain's IBEX fell 0.6 percent and missed
the broader rally. Spanish builders FCC and Sacyr
fell 7.2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively after
each reported losses for 2013.
Although Spain and Italy have shown signs of an economic
recovery from a slump caused by the 2010-2012 euro zone debt
crisis, some traders still prefer Germany - Europe's biggest
economy - as their favoured European stock market.
"I would look to buy Germany on dips and sell Spain and
Italy on rallies," said HED Capital head Richard Edwards.
UKRAINE WORRIES LINGER
Thomson Reuters StarMine data also shows Germany companies
have fared better than Spanish ones during the fourth-quarter
earnings season. According to StarMine, 58 percent of Spanish
companies have beaten or met market expectations with their
earnings. In Germany, 63 percent have beaten or met forecasts.
"Corporate earnings have been mixed, but on the whole they
haven't been too shabby," said Terry Torrison, managing director
at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.
Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Keith Bowman and other
traders said the ongoing conflict in Ukraine between those who
support Russia and those opposed to Moscow could put more
pressure on European equities.
On Friday, armed men took control of two airports in the
Crimea region and ousted President Viktor Yanukovich reappeared
in Russia after a week on the run.
"Ukraine is a political risk. As long as the markets are
convinced that Russia is not going to take a hard stance on the
issue, it is something to watch but not a game-changer," said
Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global
McLaren Securities' Torrison expected European stocks to
recover from any dip caused by worries over Ukraine to rally in
the second half of this year.
"We might do very little in the first quarter, but I think
we should roar away in the second half."