European stocks extend gains; eyes on ECB

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.9 pct, adds to Wednesday’s recovery

* Chinese data, comments help boost sentiment

* BoE keeps rates on hold; eyes on ECB

* BP extends slump on fears about dividend, more regulation

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

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, June 10 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares rose on Thursday,
adding to the previous session’s recovery, helped by strong
Chinese trade figures and positive comments from China’s
national pension fund on the euro that boosted the currency.

Investors were bracing for the European Central Bank’s news
conference that will follow the central bank’s interest rate
decision. The Bank of England kept its rates on hold and left
its 200 billion pounds of quantitative easing purchases
unchanged on Thursday, as expected.

At 1115 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top
European shares was up 0.9 percent at 1,007.32 points, after
reversing an early decline.

Data showed China’s exports surged in May while imports also
grew robustly, reassuring investors about the economy’s momentum
despite government steps to cool the red-hot property market.
[ID:nTOE65901X]

“Macro data from China has been strong, and the country’s
economy continues to rebalance itself, becoming less dependent
on exports as domestic consumption rises,” said Yves Bonzon,
chief investment officer of Pictet.

“Overall, the outlook for global growth remains strong, but
it could take a few months before the market stops worrying
about sovereign debt risks and focuses on that.”

Also lifting investor confidence in Europe, the Chinese
national pension fund chief said the euro will be able to
weather the sovereign debt crisis, triggering a rebound in the
euro from the day’s lows. [ID:nTOE659041]

Banking stocks — Europe’s worst performers so far this year
— gained ground, with BBVA (BBVA.MC: ) up 2.8 percent, Banco
Popolare (BAPO.MI: ) up 2.5 percent and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: ) up
2.4 percent.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: ) slid 0.6 percent after a report in
Germany’s financial daily Handelsblatt said a U.S. unit of the
bank may need fresh capital and has drawn attention from U.S.
regulators. Deutsche Bank declined comment on the report.

Shares in oil major BP (BP.L: ) dropped 5.4 percent —
extending their slump to 42 percent since its oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico started in mid-April — as the company faces
mounting pressure from U.S. officials to suspend their dividend
and fears grow of tighter regulation of the industry in the wake
of the disaster.

Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index (.FTSE: ) was up 0.4
percent, Germany’s DAX index (.GDAXI: ) up 0.6 percent, and
France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) up 1 percent.

SPANISH AUCTION HELPS

Spain sold 3.9 billion euros of new three-year government
bonds on Thursday, which analysts said met with strong demand,
helping soothe concerns over the euro zone’s debt problems.

Thomson Reuters’ Peripheral Eurozone Countries Index
(.TRXFLDPIPU: ) rose 1.5 percent.

The ECB, whose interest rate decision is due at 1145 GMT, is
expected to keep rates unchanged, while investors’ focus will be
on the bank’s 1230 GMT news conference, during which it will
face a grilling on the region’s debt crisis after a hectic month
in which it has abandoned resistance to buying government debt
and flung its exit strategy into reverse. [ID:nLDE6590CW]

The FTSEurofirst 300 is still down 10 percent since
mid-April. Some Southern European benchmark indexes are in bear
territory, hit by concerns that the Greek debt crisis could
spread to other euro zone countries, dampen growth in the region
and undermine the global economic recovery.

Stock Trading

(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

European stocks extend gains; eyes on ECB