* STOXX Europe 600, FTSEurofirst 300 both flat
* Germany's Dax rebounds after strong trade data
* Portugal leads risers on growth optimism
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, March 11 German shares edged higher on
Tuesday, outperforming mostly flat European stocks, as strong
trade data from the region's largest economy revived investor
appetite for the Dax index.
Broader market sentiment, however, was still undermined by a
crisis in Ukraine, where confrontation between Kiev and Moscow
showed no sign of easing.
Frankfurt's Dax blue-chip index, up 0.3 percent,
bucked the trend after Germany reported seasonally adjusted
exports and imports both rose more than forecast in January. The
bounce was led by stocks exposed to the European economy, such
as car maker VW and consumer-goods maker Henkel
The Dax had fallen 2.9 percent in the previous two sessions,
dragged down by worries about Ukraine and by disappointing
Chinese trade data.
"The German trade figures were very solid and do point to a
continuing recovery combined with an acceleration in growth in
2014," said Markus Huber, a senior sales trader at Peregrine &
Black. "Much will depend (on) how long the crisis in
the Ukraine will drag on and if harmful sanctions and
counter-sanctions will be put in place."
Russia's moves to take over Crimea have led to plans for a
referendum on March 16 on whether to secede from Ukraine and
join Russia. Those plans have provoked condemnation from western
countries and the threat of international sanctions against
The STOXX Europe 600 index of the region's top
shares was flat at 331.30 points at 1157 GMT, keeping just above
support at 330 points, corresponding to last week's low.
The STOXX was still facing resistance at 339 points, a
six-year high set earlier this month, with buyers reluctant to
push the index to fresh highs amid threats of a war in Europe.
"If I were talking to a trader, I'd say, 'Buy now and sell
at (Monday's high of) 334 and a half, even though it's a really
small gain'", said Valerie Gastaldy, the head of Paris-based
technical trading firm, Day-By-Day. "This is a sideways market
and I'd do as little trading as possible, because both upside
and downside are limited."
Gastaldy said the STOXX may fall as low as 320 points in the
next few weeks and was waiting for the S&P 500, which had
hit an all-time high on Friday, to resume its uptrend before
buying back into European shares.
The narrower FTSEurofirst 300 was also flat at
Europe bourses in 2014:
Asset performance in 2014:
Today's European research round-up
PORTUGAL LEADS RISERS
Among smaller bourses, Portugal's PSI index was the
best performer, up 0.7 percent, led by lender Banco Comercial
Portugues, on optimism about the debt-laden country's
Portugal's gross domestic product grew a revised 0.6 percent
in the fourth quarter, accelerating from the previous quarter as
consumer demand rebounded and exports rose, data showed on
The release strengthened investor optimism that economies in
southern Europe were starting to recover, as strong Italian data
on Monday suggested.
The PSI has surged around 16 percent this year, leading a
rally in southern European indexes. Italy's FTSE MIB
has risen nearly 10 percent and Spain's Ibex roughly 3
While euro zone shares are now up 10 percent from their
levels of three years ago, just before the euro zone debt crisis
reached its peak, Portuguese stocks are still down 20 percent.
The MSCI Portugal index trades at a small discount to its
euro zone peers, compared with a premium of up to 60 percent in
2009, Datastream data showed.
"Portugal has been recovering, and to some extent it has
regained the confidence of financial markets," said Wouter
Sturkenboom, strategist at Russell Investments, who has a
positive stance on peripheral European indexes
"At the same time, the problems Portugal is facing are still
very real: it has extremely high debt levels and it's going to
be extremely hard to deal with that debt without external
support, so that's holding us back a little."