February 21, 2014 / 8:15 AM / in 4 years

Europe shares rise early; CAC hits 5-1/2 yr high

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - European shares rose in early trade on Friday, with France’s CAC 40 hitting a 5 1/2 year high, mirroring a rally on Wall Street where robust U.S. factory activity data eclipsed recent soft economic figures.

At 0804 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,345.01 points. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.3 percent to 4,368.50, breaking above strong resistance and hitting a level not seen since 2008.

Wall Street’s S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent on Thursday, lifted by Markit’s preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, which shows factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports.

Bucking the trend on Friday, Europe’s No. 2 insurer AXA fell 1.1 percent after posting a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, while Kering, owner of the Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Gucci brands, dropped 0.9 percent after reporting a sharply lower full-year profit.

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