PARIS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to rise on Friday, gaining ground for the seventh straight session, boosted in part by data showing an acceleration in China's economic growth. The world's second biggest economy grew 7.8 percent in the third quarter, the country's fastest pace this year, as rising foreign and domestic demand lifted factory production and retail sales. At 0615 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.4-0.7 percent, while German Bund futures opened 2 ticks higher at 139.70, holding on to gains of around 80 ticks made on Thursday. Sentiment in equities was also buoyed by the S&P 500's record close on Thursday, coming in the wake of Washington's last-minute deal to avert a damaging U.S. default. "Now that the crisis in over in the United States, investors are back in the market, and the fear of missing the rally is becoming stronger than the fear of a market correction, so this rally has still legs," a Paris-based trader said. "Heading into the earnings session however, it's a market for stock pickers because we've already had quite a few warnings from blue chips." The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares has gained 3.6 percent in the past six sessions, as investors bet on a last-minute deal in Washington to avert a debt default, which was reached earlier in the week. The insurance sector will be in the spotlight after a senior EU lawmaker said the European Union is close to finalising a deal on how insurance companies will hold enough capital to keep policyholders safe which will severely water down the version sought by industry regulators. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0619 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,733.15 0.67 % 11.61 NIKKEI 14,561.54 -0.17 % -24.97 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 559.92 0.95 % 5.25 EUR/USD 1.3674 -0.01 % -0.0001 USD/JPY 98.01 0.12 % 0.1200 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.601 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.875 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,316.86 -0.17 % -$2.23 US CRUDE $100.84 0.17 % 0.17 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares rise on U.S. relief, China data > US STOCKS-S&P 500 sets record high on relief over U.S. fiscal deal > Nikkei flat ahead of China data; still set for weekly gain > FOREX-Dollar near 8-month low, fiscal wrangling takes toll > PRECIOUS-Gold set for best week in two months on U.S. stimulus hopes > METALS-Copper gains after China GDP, but caution limits rise > Brent rises, above $109, as Chinese GDP offsets US oil stocks gain COMPANY NEWS: HSBC A unit of British bank HSBC Holdings Plc was hit on Thursday with a record $2.46 billion final judgment in a U.S. securities class action lawsuit against a business formerly known as Household International Inc. L'OREAL The consumer-goods company is in exclusive talks to buy skincare brands Decleor and Carita from Japan's Shiseido 4911.T for around 230 million euros ($314.3 million), Shiseido said. ACCOR Europe's largest hotel group by sales said revenue growth accelerated in the third quarter as demand for rooms in budget hotels showed further signs of recovery. VALEO The auto parts maker said revenue rose a modest 2.2 percent in the third quarter as a weaker Brazilian real and Japanese yen reduced the value of overseas sales. SIEMENS Siemens' new Chief Executive Joe Kaeser is returning more power to lower-level managers around the world with the aim of making the engineering group more nimble. AREVA, EDF France's hopes of extending the lifespan of the country's 58 nuclear power plants could be scuppered by the prohibitive cost of replacing some key components, a top official at the country's nuclear watchdog said. CAPGEMINI The IT services company said it had entered into exclusive talks to buy outsourcing unit Euriware from Areva. AIR FRANCE-KLM, ALITALIA Air France-KLM is open to giving struggling Italian carrier Alitalia its rightful role in a merged entity but only if certain conditions are met, its chief executive told French television on Thursday. Alitalia's equity capital is seen at 330-425 million euros ($191.64 billion) should a planned cash call be fully subscribed and an existing bond converted into shares, sources close to the matter said on Thursday. BANCA MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA Italy's Supreme Court ordered the immediate release from house arrest of former Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena finance chief Gianluca Baldassari, one of his lawyers said on Thursday. GRIFOLS Investment bank UBS said after market close on Thursday that it was to sell 2.72 percent of the blood products firm to institutional investors.