Banks and commodities lead European shares higher

* FTSEurofirst 300 rises 0.8 pct, after Wall St rally

* British Land gains as asset values rise

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU]

By Brian Gorman

LONDON, May 18 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares rose in early
trade on Tuesday, with banks and commodity stocks gaining, after
a rally on Wall Street and on hopes that euro zone finance
ministers are making progress with details of a rescue package.

At 0823 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top
European shares was up 0.8 percent at 1,020.71 points, after
falling 0.1 percent in the previous session.

The index is down more than 8 percent from mid-April on
fears about a debt crisis in the euro zone, but is still up more
than 58 percent from its lifetime low of March 9, 2009.

Banks added most points to the index on Tuesday. BNP Paribas
(BNPP.PA: ), Banco Santander (SAN.MC: ), BBVA (BBVA.MC: ), Credit
Agricole (CAGR.PA: ) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: ) rose between
2.1 and 3.8 percent.

Euro zone finance ministers aim to rapidly iron out wrinkles
in the 750 billion euro ($925 billion) plan they hatched a week
ago to calm markets and stem fears of Greece’s debt problems
spreading to other countries in the currency area.
“The ECB has clarified its intervention,” said Bernard
McAlinden, investment strategist at NCB Stockbrokers in Dublin.
“The market is less concerned that the ECB is engaged in
outright money printing.

Energy companies gained, as crude oil prices (CLc1: )
continued to bounce from the five-month lows hit on Monday,
helped by strong Chinese demand.

The euro’s recovery from a four-year low against the dollar
late on Monday helped, though it weakened again on Tuesday.

Total (TOTF.PA: ), ENI (ENI.MI: ), Repsol (REP.MC: ) and
StatoilHydro (STL.OL: ) rose between 1.3 and 1.8 percent.

BP (BP.L: ) rose 1.6 percent, on optimism it was finding a
solution to an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Metals prices also recovered, with copper up from the
three-month lows of Monday. Miners Anglo American (AAL.L: ),
Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ), Kazakhmys (KAZ.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and
Xstrata (XTA.L: ) rose between 1.9 and 3.1 percent.

Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ), Germany’s DAX
(.GDAXI: ) and France’s CAC40 (.FCHI: ) rose between 0.8 and 1.5
percent.

BRITISH LAND GAINS

British Land (BLND.L: ) rose 4.3 percent after booking the
first full-year mark-up in its portfolio since the UK property
bubble burst three years ago. [ID:nLDE6430HT]

Vodafone (VOD.L: ), the world’s second-largest mobile operator
by revenue, gave up early gains to trade 0.3 percent lower after
posting full-year earnings in line with forecasts and raising
its dividend policy, but taking a hit on its key Indian
business.

Germany’s ZEW confidence index is due at 0900 GMT. Investors
will look at U.S. housing data , due at 1230 GMT, for clues on
the strength of the recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) staged a comeback in late trading on Monday as
bargain hunters snapped up beaten-down shares.

Stock Investing

(Editing by Erica Billingham

Banks and commodities lead European shares higher