European shares rise on tech; EU meeting eyed

* FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.4 percent

* BP falls on lawsuit over oil spill

* European Union meeting in focus

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

By Joanne Frearson

LONDON, Dec 16 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares were higher on
Thursday, with gains limited ahead of a European Union leaders
meeting, while BP (BP.L: ) fell after the United States launched a
legal battle against the company over the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill.

Trading was expected to be volatile due to “quadruple
witching”, the expiry of index and individual stock futures and
options.

By 0951 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index of top shares was 0.4 percent higher at 1,131.58 points,
after ending its longest winning run in six months on Wednesday.

“Spain is going to be the issue, with the threat of a
downgrade, investors will be looking for comments from the EU
meeting,” Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG Index, said.

“We do not want Spain to get bailed out. If it does, it
sends a big message to investors that if an economy as big as
Spain is fragile, then the euro-zone may be a risky place to do
business.”

European Union leaders meet on Thursday for a two-day
summit, which aims to tackle the debt crisis that has enveloped
Greece and Ireland and threatens to spread to Portugal and
Spain. [ID:nLDE6BE29I]

However, Spain sold 2.4 billion euros of government bonds on
Thursday, clearing its final supply hurdle of the year with a
solid auction that had been billed as a test of sentiment
towards the euro zone’s higher-yield issuers.

Spain’s IBEX 35 (.IBEX: ) was 0.2 percent higher, but
Portugal’s PSI 20 (.PSI20: ) and Italy’s benchmark (.FTMIB: ) both
fell 0.2 percent. The Peripheral Eurozone Countries Index
(.TRXFLDPIPU: ) was 0.2 percent higher.

On the downside, BP fell 2.1 percent after the Obama
administration on Wednesday launched a legal challenge against
the company and its partners over the worst offshore oil spill
in U.S. history.

On the upside, technology stocks featured among the best
performers, with the STOXX Europe 600 Technology (.SX8P: ) 0.7
percent higher. Mobile network equipment maker Ericsson
(ERICb.ST: ) rose 4.5 percent, with analysts attributing the gain
to a positive note from Handelsbanken.

CARREFOUR GAINS

Looking at individual stocks, Carrefour (CARR.PA: ) rose 2.2
percent after newspaper Les Echos said the world’s No.2 retailer
would decide whether to spin off or do an initial public
offering of its property unit in the first half of next year.
[ID:nLDE6BF044]

Elsewhere, Stagecoach (SGC.L: ) gained 3.7 percent after RBS
upgraded its rating for the transport operator to “hold” from
“sell” with an increased target price of 200 pence, up from 165
pence.

Serco Group (SRP.L: ) rose 1.9 percent after the outsourcing
firm said it remained on track to deliver its full-year guidance
in a trading update. {ID:nWLA0991]

French defence company Thales (TCFP.PA: ) dropped 5.1 percent
after its CEO made cautious comments in a newspaper interview
and the UK halted negotiations on search-and-rescue helicopter
procurement following a “problem” with the Thales-led bid.

“(CEO) Luc Vigneron was quoted (in French newspaper Les
Echos) as saying margin progress would be slow … Secondly, the
UK search and rescue was supposed to be decided this week … It
is really both,” Execution Noble analyst Edward Stacey said.

Across Europe, the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) index was 0.4 percent
higher, Germany’s DAX (.GDAXI: ) was 0.1 percent higher and
France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) rose 0.3 percent.
(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by XXX)

European shares rise on tech; EU meeting eyed