* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.1 percent
* Iliad, Bouygues up on sector consolidation hopes
* Miners slip on global growth concerns
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, June 12 European shares steadied near
recent multi-year highs by midday on Thursday as a rally in some
telecom stocks prompted by merger hopes in the sector was offset
by global growth concerns which weighed on the mining sector.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
was up 0.1 percent at 1,393.13 points by 1055 GMT, hovering just
below this week's 6-1/2-year high.
However, Iliad rose 6.3 percent, the biggest gainer
on the FTSEurofirst 300, and Bouygues advanced 4
percent on expectations of further consolidation in France's
Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said on Thursday the
government still wants to reduce the number of mobile telecom
operators in France to three from four to bring an end to the
"destructive spiral" of falling prices.
"You have seen signs of consolidation and we have got some
more this morning. Consolidation is a good thing for the sector
as it improves their market power and pricing, which has been a
key issue holding back earnings in the sector," Macquarie
strategist Daniel McCormack said.
"The trend could extend beyond telecoms as a lot of European
corporates are pretty cashed up and they could be looking for
opportunities to buy other companies."
However, gains were capped by a sharp decline in mining
shares after some concerns about global economic forecasts and a
decline in copper prices towards one-month lows.
The World Bank trimmed its global growth forecast this week
saying a confluence of events, from the Ukraine crisis to
unusually cold weather in the United States, dampened economic
expansion in the first half of the year.
Miners Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP
Billiton fell 1.5 to 3.3 percent as investors fretted
about demand especially in top consumer China.
Investors also awaited U.S. jobless claims and retail sales
data, both due at 1230 GMT, for hints about the market's
Analysts advised caution in chasing the market higher after
major stock indexes touched multi-year highs.
"After such a good rally, it's not the time to buy right
now, it's better just to sit on your gains. The market is quite
vulnerable to negative news at the moment," Altedia Investment
Consulting analyst Philippe de Vandiere said.
"In the longer term however, earnings in Europe will start
to recover in the next few months, which should lift stocks
Among individual movers, Alstom rose 0.4 percent
after Hitachi said it would join the bidders for the
French group's energy business countering an offer from General
BNP Paribas was also in the spotlight, gaining 0.5
percent after the bank, which is wrestling with U.S. authorities
over a potential $10 billion fine, said its chief operating
officer will step down at the end of the month.
Stock markets in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon
opened 30 minutes late on Thursday due to a technical glitch at
market operator Euronext.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by