European shares end higher in low vols; techs gain

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 percent
* Geopolitical concerns keep key index around resistance

* Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia lift tech stocks on Goldman upgrade

By Harpreet Bhal

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) – European shares edged higher on
Monday, with tech stocks Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Nokia
(NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research) lifting the sector after a ratings upgrade.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top
shares closed 0.1 percent higher at 1,125.47 points on volumes
of 65 percent of the 90-day average, reflecting caution amid
ongoing turmoil in the Arab world and Japan’s nuclear crisis.

Gains in technology stocks supported the market, with
Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia up 7.9 percent and 3.6 percent
respectively on the back of an investment rating upgrade by
Goldman Sachs.

Analysts said the broader equity market was in a
consolidation phase, hovering below key resistance levels which,
if significantly breached, could signal fresh highs.

“While the market has sold off recently, they have come back
now to test their prior trend lines which, in theory, should now
act as resistance,” said Andrew Dennan, portfolio manager at
Astin Capital Management. “It is a period of consolidation as we
reach these levels to see if the world’s a better place we go
through and if not whether we sell back off again.”

The STOXX Europe 50 (.STOXX50E: Quote, Profile, Research), the euro zone’s blue-chip
index, was up 0.1 percent at 2,914.76 points, to hover around
its 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of a low in November to a
high in February.

The market was expected to stay rangebound in the run-up to
U.S. non-farm payrolls data for March due on Friday, which was
expected to show an addition of 190,000 jobs after a rise of
192,000 in February.

“We still need a lot more answers and I think until we have
the U.S. non-farm payroll data out on Friday which will tell us
about the strength of the economy, we will continue to drift
around,” said Ian Ormiston, fund manager at Ignis Asset
Management, which has 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in
European assets under management.

TECHS GAIN

Banking stocks were on the rise. The STOXX Europe 600
banking index (.SX7P: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.5 percent, with traders citing
bullish broker comments from Barclays (BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and JPMorgan.

A Reuters report on a possible liquidity deal by European
Central Bank (ECB) for troubled euro zone banks also helped
reassure investors. [ID:nLDE72R087]

Automakers, however, limited further gains on the index,
with the STOXX Europe 600 auto index (.SXAP: Quote, Profile, Research) down 0.4 percent on
uncertainty over the impact of Japan’s nuclear crisis on global
supply chains.

“We think auto makers such as Daimler (DAIGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) will only
be impacted short-term due to problems caused by supply chain
disruptions in Japan, but over the long-term there will be no
sales demand impact,” Ormiston said.

Portugal’s PSI 20 (.PSI20: Quote, Profile, Research) ended 0.3 percent lower and
Portuguese bond yields hit new highs as the country’s political
turmoil added to uncertainty over its fiscal situation.

The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 3.3 percent last week, after four
consecutive weeks of falls, and is up 0.3 percent year to date.
(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Joanne Frearson;
Editing by Dan Lalor)

European shares end higher in low vols; techs gain