* FTSEurofirst 300 index gains 0.2 percent
* Airbus, ThyssenKrupp help industrial shares
* Peripheral euro zone shares under pressure
By Atul Prakash and Blaise Robinson
LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) - European equities rose on Tuesday, with some benchmarks hitting multi-year highs, on upbeat company results and a report that Germany’s central bank is ready to back new stimulus measures from the ECB.
Airbus Group surged 6.3 percent in a relief rally after it reported better-than-expected profits and said its latest jetliner was “progressing towards certification” in time for first delivery by the end of the year.
The Franco-German aerospace giant was the top gainer on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index.
Shares in ThyssenKrupp also surged, up 5.3 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.
“The current environment is pretty good for industrials and their shares are likely to perform well going forward,” said Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich.
“We are overweight the sector as capital expenditure by industrial companies in Europe is increasing. Recent earnings results have also reflected that trend.”
Airbus and ThyssenKrupp helped the STOXX Europe 600 industrial goods and services sector to advance 0.9 percent, the top sectoral gainer in Europe.
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. That has fuelled 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, a 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 1343 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,366,75 points after rising to a high of 1,369.04, a level not seen since May 2008, while the UK’s FTSE 100 hit a 14-year high.
Traders said sentiment was lifted by a report saying Germany’s Bundesbank would support a European Central Bank rate cut if one was needed. It would also back other measures such as negative rates on bank deposits and purchases of packaged bank loans to keep inflation from staying too low.
Despite the overall rally on Tuesday, investors booked profits on shares in peripheral euro zone markets such as Italy, Portugal and Ireland which have outperformed strongly since the start of the year.
Italy’s FTSE MIB and Portugal’s PSI 20 were both down 0.8 percent. The two indexes are 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.”
Among individual movers, shares in British low-cost airline easyJet, which have risen around 50 percent in the past year, dropped 4 percent after disappointing some analysts by breaking a recent trend of upgrading forecasts.
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 Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by Catherine Evans)