* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.1 pct
* IHG, Accor lead gainers
* FTSE outperforms after holiday
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, May 27 Gains in the travel and
leisure sector helped support European shares near multi-year
highs on Tuesday, as chatter about mergers and acquisitions
focused on several hotel firms.
Intercontinental Hotel Group jumped 5.2 percent, the
top performer on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300,
after British media reported interest from an unidentified
bidder in the United States.
French peer Accor Europe's largest hotel group,
gained 2.2 percent after it said on Tuesday it had agreed to buy
the assets of 97 hotels for about 900 million euros, in a move
the company said would boost earnings.
In all, the STOXX Europe 600 Travel and Leisure sector
rose 1.6 percent, the biggest sectoral riser, to hit its
highest level since 2007.
"If you've got confidence in hotels you've got confidence in
the consumer," said Charles Stanley analyst Jeremy
Batstone-Carr. "Strength in consumer-facing sectors reflects a
belief that pressure is easing on disposable incomes," he added,
while noting that incomes in many economies remain squeezed.
The reopening of British markets after a public holiday
helped support stocks across the continent. The FTSEurofirst 300
was flat at 1,377.75 at 0816 GMT, but the euro zone Euro Stoxx
50 dipped 0.1 percent.
On Monday, Germany's DAX hit a record high and the
euro zone Euro STOXX 50 touched a new 5-1/2 year peak as strong
showings by pro-European forces in Germany and Italy helped
balance Eurosceptic gains in France, Britain and Greece.
Although the FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent on Tuesday,
it has lagged euro zone blue chips in 2014, up just 1.2 percent
compared to a 4 percent gain on the Euro STOXX 50. Some traders
attribute this to the potential for intervention from the
18-country euro zone's central bank.
ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Monday the European Central
Bank must be "particularly watchful" for any negative price
spiral in the euro zone, reiterating his readiness to act to
"Draghi signalled yesterday a readiness to act on low
inflation, which could be warming us up for June intervention
and helped risk appetite," said Mike van Dulken, head of
research at Accendo Markets.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by Catherine Evans)