Europe shares edge up on strong data

By Harpreet Bhal

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – European shares edged up on Monday, with enthusiasm over a pick-up in manufacturing growth just offsetting nerves ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting likely to outline the central bank’s monetary easing plans.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top shares ended 0.1 percent higher at 1,088.01 points — a near one-week closing high — but pared gains from earlier in the session when it hit a high of 1,094.74 points.

Sentiment was boosted by data showing surprisingly strong growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector last month, as well as upbeat manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) numbers in China earlier in the session.

“These PMIs suggest that there’s a bit of a momentum pickup. Although the numbers were good, I still think there is a strong sense that the Fed is going to go ahead with QE anyway,” said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin.

Mining shares rallied, with the STOXX Europe 600 basic resources index (.SXPP: ) up 1.2 percent, after metals prices were boosted by the upbeat manufacturing numbers and as the dollar was pressured by expectations that the Fed will embark on more quantitative easing measures this week.

Despite widespread expectation that the Fed will announce further quantitative easing when it concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday, uncertainty lingered over how much it will eventually spend — with estimates ranging from $250 billion to as high as $2 trillion.

Banks — a barometer of investors’ risk appetite — were on the back foot, with Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: ), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: ) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: ) down 0.7 to 1.1 percent.

“Stocks initially benefited from the Chinese manufacturing data. But the market was a lot stronger than anticipated, and investors are now taking profits ahead of the Federal Open Monetary Committee announcement on Wednesday,” said Heino Ruland, strategist at Ruland Research in Frankfurt.

Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ), Germany’s DAX (.GDAXI: ) and France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) were up 0.1 to 0.3 percent.

QE BOOST

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 added 2.4 percent in October partly on expectations that the Fed will print more money to spur the recovery, with the mining sector among the biggest beneficiaries as quantitative easing expectations put pressure on the dollar and lifted commodity prices.

Analysts, however, caution that the equity market could be in for a bout of profit-taking once the Fed makes its announcement on monetary easing plans.

“So much is already priced in the market and once it is all over and done with and they (the Fed) have released the news, we could see a bit of a sell-off,” Lenhoff said.

Among individual movers, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair (RYA.I: ) (RYA.L: ), slipped 3.8 percent. It failed to wow investors with an upgrade to its full-year earnings forecast after missing market forecasts for second-quarter net profit.

Mail and express group TNT (TNT.AS: ) fell 4.2 percent after the Dutch company posted worse-than-expected results, dragged down by restructuring, pension and other costs in its mail unit.

On the upside, Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins (JMT.LS: ) rose 4.7 percent after the Lisbon government and opposition reached an agreement on the 2011 budget and left value-added tax on most basic foodstuff at lower rates [ID:nLDE6A009F].

The agreement on Saturday helped avert a political crisis in one of the euro zone’s financially weakest members.

(Additional reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by David Cowell)

Europe shares edge up on strong data