* Chinese data suggest second quarter slowdown less sharp than feared
* European shares track Asian gains after Chinese data
* Oil firm at 3-1/2 month high, copper sheds gains
By Marc Jones
LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Monday along with the commodities-linked Australian dollar after data suggested China’s second quarter economic slowdown was not as bad as feared.
European shares on the broad FTSEurofirst 300 opened up 0.5 percent as London’s FTSE, Frankfurt’s DAX and Paris’s CAC 40 outpaced bourses in Asia with gains of 0.5-0.7 percent.
China’s second quarter economic growth cooled to 7.5 percent from a year ago as expected, while other figures showed a healthy rise in retail sales and a minor undershoot of forecasts in industrial output.
Comments by Beijing officials last week had led some parts of the market to think the growth numbers might have been weaker.
The relief left oil hovering at a 3-1/2 month high at just over $109 a barrel and though copper - usually closely attuned to China’s fortunes - gave up its initial gains, the Australian dollar climbed 0.4 percent to $0.9087.
“The Chinese data was in line, which was a relief,” Jawaid Afsar, sales trader at SecurEquity, said. “Markets should continue to move higher.”
The euro and the dollar both saw quiet starts to European trading while in the bond market, focus was turning to U.S. retail sales data that will add fuel to the debate over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus plans.
Bund futures were 12 ticks lower on the day at 143.51 having gained almost two points last week. French yields were up 1.9 basis points after Fitch became the last of the big rating firms to strip Paris of its AAA status.