* FTSEurofirst 300 ends up 0.7 percent
* Firmer metals prices boost mining stocks
* Autos make seventh straight day of gains led by VW
* Investors cover shorts on rig firms Seadrill, Transocean
* Italian banks lower after ECB move on Carige (Adds details, closing prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 4 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday after strong U.S jobs data eased concerns about a possible recession in the world’s largest economy, with miners boosted by firmer metals prices and auto stocks making their seventh day of gains in a row.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.7 percent to 1,344.62 points, scoring its third straight week of gains, while the euro zone’s Euro STOXX 50 index climbed 0.8 percent.
U.S. employment gains surged in February, the clearest sign yet of labour market strength that could further ease fears about the economy and allow the Federal Reserve to gradually raise interest rates this year.
“Risk mood is on and concerns over a recession are starting to disappear,” said Consultinvest fund manager Enrico Vaccari.
European stocks have rallied after a rocky start to 2016, as oil prices recovered and fears over a U.S. economic slowdown abated. Nevertheless, the FTSEurofirst remains down around 6.5 percent since the start of the year.
Mining stocks Glencore, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto all rose by between 5.9 to 11.9 percent, helped by a rally in the prices of major industrial metals. Copper was headed for its biggest weekly advance in about six months, amid optimism about demand and cuts in output
Auto stocks were also up, for the seventh straight sessions, led by German carmaker Volkswagen which ended up 4.2 percent. Investors took heart this week from more upbeat comments over the Chinese market at the Geneva car show and were lured by low valuations after this year’s selloff.
But some fund managers cautioned against making blanket investment bets on the sector, which has been the second worst performer this year after banks.
“While certain valuation metrics do seem to suggest the automotive sector selloff may be approaching an end, the current stage of the cycle would suggest selective exposure,” said Tyler Curtis of the Global Sector Equities team at BNP Paribas.
Shares in rig companies Seadrill and Transocean jumped 38 percent and 20 percent respectively with traders attributing the move to short covering. Oslo-listed Seadrill was also supported by speculation that its top investor, billionaire John Fredricksen, may inject cash into the company.
French SIM card maker Gemalto rose 9 percent after it reported a rise in annual profits..
Banca Carige fell 9.6 percent after the European Central Bank asked the lender to draw up a new business plan, putting pressure on all Italian banks. Monte Paschi and UniCredit fell 1 and 2.2 percent respectively.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in London and Ole Petter in Oslo; Editing by Catherine Evans)