* FTSEurofirst 300 closes up 0.4 pct at 1,338.12 points
* Euro STOXX 50 ends up 0.2 pct at 3,182.79 points
* Auto stocks are best-performing equity sector
* Bernstein upgrades lift Porsche and Volkswagen
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 9 European shares rebounded on
Wednesday, led by gains in automakers, although some traders
said caution ahead of the European earnings season could curb
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up
by 0.4 percent at 1,338.12 points, bouncing back after falling
to its lowest level in more than a week in the previous session.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
also advanced by 0.2 percent to 3,182.79 points.
The STOXX Europe 600 Automobile & Auto Parts Index
was the best-performing equity sector in Europe, rising 1.5
percent as Volkswagen and Porsche both
benefited from an upgrade by the brokerage Bernstein.
Bernstein raised its rating on Porsche and Volkswagen to
"outperform" from "market perform".
Andrea Williams, a European equities fund manager at Royal
London Asset Management, also highlighted strong U.S auto sales
figures at the start of April as boding well for the sector.
"The U.S. car numbers were very good and pricing is becoming
less of a problem for the European carmakers," said Williams.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
NEED FOR GOOD EARNINGS
The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 16 percent in 2013 to post its
best annual gain since 2009, and hit a peak of 1,355.29 points
on April 4, which marked its highest level since May 2008.
The index has risen nearly 2 percent since the start of
2014, partly helped by signs of a European economic recovery and
by expectations that the European Central Bank could introduce
new measures to ensure the fledgling recovery does not falter.
Analysts said strong European corporate results were needed
during the second quarter to give the region's stock markets
another push higher.
Alcoa kicked off the U.S. earnings season by
reporting a fall in adjusted quarterly profits late on Tuesday
as aluminum prices dropped, but its earnings nevertheless came
in ahead of analysts' expectations.
"We are cautiously optimistic about the first-quarter
European reporting season and expect positive earnings growth in
mid-single digit," said Ronny Claeys, a senior strategist at KBC
Asset Management in Brussels.
"We need some really positive news on earnings and economic
growth to start the market going again. Until then, equities
could struggle to move strongly higher."
(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Mark