European shares rise led by banks, commodities

By Joanne Frearson

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – European shares rose early on Friday, bouncing back after their worst sell-off in a year, led by the banking sector as investors await U.S. GDP numbers to gauge the health of the global economy.

By 4:02 a.m. EST, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top shares was up 0.9 percent at 1,010.73 points after hitting their lowest close in seven weeks on Thursday.

“Even though today we may see some sort of bounce, I think the problems are still haunting us,” said Philippe Gijsels, senior equity strategist at Fortis Bank.

“We still have the situation with Greece and the problem is shifting to Portugal. Obama is also introducing a lot of anxiety … though Bernanke was reappointed which has lifted some of the uncertainty.”

Overnight the U.S. Senate backed Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term running the Federal Reserve.

Banks featured among the biggest gainers on Friday. HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Banco Santander (SAN.MC: ), Standard Chartered (STAN.L: ) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: ) rose 1.3 to 1.7 percent.

Energy stocks gained as crude rose 0.2 percent, with BG Group (BG.L: ), BP (BP.L: ), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) and Total (TOTF.PA: ) up 0.4 to 1.4 percent.

Miners were in demand as investors became more confident about a global recovery. Anglo American (AAL.L: ), Antofagasta (ANTO.L: ), BHP Billiton (BLT.L: ), Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) and Xstrata (XTA.L: ) were up 0.8 percent to 1.9 percent.

HENKEL SHINES

Looking at individual stocks, German consumer goods maker Henkel (HNKG_p.DE: ) rose 3.1 percent after it said late Thursday it expects this year’s earnings to rise, taking heart from a stronger than expected finish to 2009.

BMW (BMWG.DE: ), the world’s biggest premium automaker, was up 2.7 percent after forecasting that car sales would rise in 2010 despite the lingering impact of the global economic crisis.

On the downside, shares in Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI: ) fell 3.3 percent after the Italian aerospace company revised its 2009 and 2010 guidance.

At 8:30 a.m. EST, investors will watch U.S. fourth-quarter GDP figures. A Reuters survey predicted that U.S. GDP expanded at a 4.6 percent annual rate, up from 2.2 percent in the third quarter.

Before that, investors will likely focus on euro zone inflation and unemployment figures due out at 5 a.m. EST.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index is down around 3.5 percent this year after surging 26 percent in 2009.

Across Europe, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) index gained 0.8 percent on Friday, Germany’s DAX (.GDAXI: ) rose 1.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) was 1 percent higher.

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(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

European shares rise led by banks, commodities