European shares end near 19-month highs; banks up

LONDON, April 15 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares ended near
19-month highs on Thursday, led by banking stocks as positive
U.S. earnings gave support to the sector and drugmakers gained
after Roche (ROG.VX: ) results beat forecasts.

The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares
provisionally closed up 0.6 percent at 1,112.31, its highest
close since late September 2008.

Banks stocks added to Wednesday’s gains and featured among
the top performers. Barclays (BARC.L: ), Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX: )
and HSBC (HSBA.L: ) rose 1.6 to 2.8 percent.

“Earnings season has had a good start and this is supporting
equity markets,” said Tammo Greetfeld, equity strategist at
UniCredit in Munich. “Banks are still doing well on optimism
surrounding the JPMorgan results yesterday.”

Greek banks (.FTATBNK: ) gained 4.4 percent on what analysts
said was optimism that Greece was taking steps to activate a
EU/IMF aid mechanism for the country’s finances.

Roche gained 2.8 percent after it beat first-quarter sales
forecasts and confirmed its full-year outlook. [ID:nLDE63D1LO]

Energy stocks extended their rally from the previous
session, boosted by positive comments from Credit Suisse.
BP (BP.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ), Total (TOTF.PA: ) and Cairn
Energy (CNE.L: ) climbed 0.7 to 1.8 percent.

Stock Market Research

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson)

European shares end near 19-month highs; banks up