* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 percent, hits 6-year high
* Traders cite report Bundesbank would back new ECB measures
* Profit-taking hits peripheral stocks after outperformance
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, May 13 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Tuesday, with a number of benchmarks hitting multi-year highs, boosted by upbeat company results and a report saying Germany’s central bank is ready to back new stimulus measures from the European Central Bank.
Airbus Group surged 6.7 percent in a relief rally after it reported better-than-expected profits and said its latest jetliner, the A350, was “progressing towards certification” in time for first delivery by the end of the year.
Shares in ThyssenKrupp also surged, up 4.4 percent after the German steelmaker posted its first quarterly net profit in two years, beating analyst estimates, and raised its forecast for full-year operating profit.
Roughly three quarters of the way into the European earnings season, STOXX 600 companies have posted on average a 2.5 percent rise in profits and a 0.7 percent rise in revenues, according to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, fuelling hopes of a long-awaited rebound in corporate profits this year.
“This first-quarter earnings season reflects the recovery in the macroeconomic landscape and, although it’s moderate, the negative currency impact seems lower than in the previous quarter,” said Joffrey Ouafqa, fund manager at Convictions AM, in Paris.
“If the macro recovery is confirmed, company results and share prices will follow. That’s what the market needs at this point because stocks are trading at fair value now.”
At 1052 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,367.17 points, a level not seen since May 2008, while the UK’s FTSE 100 hit a 14-year high.
Traders said market sentiment was in part lifted by a report from Dow Jones saying Germany’s Bundesbank would back a rate cut, if needed, by the European Central Bank, as well as other measures such as negative rates on bank deposits and purchases of packaged bank loans to keep inflation from staying too low.
PROFIT-TAKING IN PERIPHERY
Despite the overall rally on Tuesday, investors booked profits on shares in peripheral euro zone markets such as Italy, Portugal and Ireland following a strong outperformance since the start of the year.
Milan’s FTSE MIB was down 0.5 percent and Portugal’s PSI 20 was down 0.8 percent. The two indexes are still up 13 percent and 12 percent year-to-date respectively, strongly outpacing the FTSEurofirst 300, up 3.8 percent over the same period.
“It’s been an amazing run so far this year for Italian stocks,” said Riccardo Designori, market analyst at Brown Editore, in Milan.
“But now, there are worries in Italy about potential changes to the level of taxation on capital gains and a lot of people are quietly booking profits just in case, so the rally might stall,” he said.
Also losing ground on Tuesday, shares in Credit Suisse dropped 2.2 percent after sources told Reuters that New York state’s banking regulator is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the Swiss lender in its probe of potential tax evasion. This could push an eventual settlement with U.S. authorities to more than $2 billion.
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 Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by Gareth Jones)