European shares boosted by technology, banks

* FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.3 percent

* ASML jumps on Q4 bookings forecast

* Commods higher on global recovery hopes

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

LONDON, Dec 9 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares hit a 26-month
high on Thursday on optimism U.S. tax cuts would boost
consumption, with technology stocks boosted after ASML (ASML.AS: )
lifted its booking forecast.

By 1012 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index of top shares was 0.3 percent higher at 1,122.96 points.

“Anything with good exposure to the U.S. is obviously going
to have a huge benefit, especially on the consumer side,” Ben
Critchley, sales trader at IG Index, said.

Since President Barack Obama announced the tax cuts, top
fund managers like Legg Mason Inc’s (LM.N: ) Bill Miller, famous
for beating the returns of the S&P 500 Index for 15 straight
years, have been prompted to take a bullish stance on equities
because of the stimulus the cuts will provide for the economy.

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Technology stocks featured among the best performers, with
Dutch chip equipment maker ASML (ASML.AS: ) jumping 6.4 percent
after it raised its forecast for fourth-quarter bookings. The
company has about 23.1 percent exposure to the United States.

The sector was also given a boost after microchip bellwether
Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.N: ) on Wednesday gave a solid outlook.
[ID:nN07288607]

Elsewhere, German chemical company BASF (BASFn.DE: ) and
cement maker HeidelbergCement (HEIG.DE: ) were 0.9 percent and 1.3
percent higher after Deutsche Bank both said the companies may
benefit from the U.S. tax deal.

“The deal would allow all businesses to expense 100 percent
of their investments in new plants and equipments in 2011,”
Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

BASF has 18.6 percent exposure to the United States, while
HeidelbergCement’s is 26 percent.

European stocks are looking cheaper than U.S. equities. The
STOXX Europe 600 (.STOXX: ) carries a one-year forward
price-to-earnings of 9.9 times versus S&P 500’s (.SPX: ) 12.7
times, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

However, S&P 500 has gained more than 10 percent so far this
year, while the STOXX Europe 600 is up 8.7 percent.

BANKS GAIN

Banks which are sensitive to changes in the economic
environment featured among the movers. Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS.L: ), Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: ) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: )
rose 1.7 to 3.3 percent.

But on the downside, Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) lost
4.2 percent after it said rising costs in its Asian markets,
took the shine off record income and profits. [ID:nTOE6B805E]

Later in the session, investors will watch the Bank of
England rate decision, with the BoE expected to keep interest
rates on hold at 0.5 percent.

Across Europe, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) index was up 0.2
percent, Germany’s DAX (.GDAXI: ) was down 0.2 percent and
France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) was 0.2 percent higher.
(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by Hans Peters)

European shares boosted by technology, banks