* FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.3 pct
* Chinese factory activity lifts miners
* Strong PMIs help Spain but weakness returns to France
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, June 2 (Reuters) - European shares started the month positively on Monday, buoyed by strong economic data from China that helped to allay concerns about growth rates in the world’s biggest metals consumer.
Basic resources stocks, including miners and other commodity companies, rose 1.3 percent, the biggest sectoral gainer, after data showed Chinese factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in five months in May.
“Chinese data was a shade better than expected; it will prove a little bit of a boost,” Alastair McCaig, analyst at IG, said.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,381.29 by 0800 GMT, more than recouping Friday’s slight dip.
The CAC index underperformed, down 0.1 percent, as data showed France’s manufacturing sector fell back into contraction having recorded its first two months of growth since 2011 in March and April.
Spain’s blue-chip IBEX gained 0.4 percent after its manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest rate since April 2010.
Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent, or 26.34 points to 9,969.61, leaving it within touching distance of breaking the 10,000 mark for the first time.
Whether it will be able to break this barrier is linked to whether expectations of stimulus from the European Central Bank later in the week are delivered on, analysts said.
“The ECB meeting on Thursday...has already given the markets some solid impulses during the previous weeks when investors had growing hope on a more expansive approach,” Roger Peeters, who runs Close Brothers Seydler Research, said in a note.
“The wording on the further goings-on will be critical for the development in the markets during the next months.”
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by John Stonestreet