* STOXX 600 up 0.9 percent this week so far
* Miners lead sectoral gains after strong Chinese data
* Renault boosted by results in positive auto sector
* Reckitt inches up after $16.6 bln acquisition deal
(Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Feb 10 European shares were slightly
higher on Friday, on track to end the week in positive territory
as healthy corporate earnings, solid economic data and merger
activity helped set aside worries over the region's political
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.2 percent
and set for a weekly gain of 0.9 percent that brought index
close to a 13-month peak hit in January.
Yet the week has seen some volatility because of investor
concerns over the French elections this spring and the
re-emergence of talk of Greece leaving the euro.
"Sentiment today is supported by good economic data from
China, Italy and the UK ... but the week has seen ups and downs
as investors seek reassurance that Europe will hold together,"
said Carlo Alberto De Casa, Chief Analyst at ActivTrades.
Earlier, China posted much stronger-than-expected trade
figures for January as demand picked up at home and abroad.
The robust figures from the world's second biggest economy,
a big metals consumer, buoyed copper prices, which in turn
lifted mining stocks.
The STOXX 600 Basic Resources index rose 1.8
percent, the biggest sectoral gainer in Europe. The index was
also lifted by shares in ArcelorMittal, the world's
largest steelmaker, which rose 3.7 percent after posting a
higher-than-expected quarterly core profit.
Auto stocks were also in demand, with Renault
rising 1.8 percent after posting record full-year results,
helped by a comprehensive revamp of its product range, and
setting ambitious new mid-term goals.
Jefferies, which has an 'underperform' rating on the stock,
said the guidance was more bullish than it had anticipated,
meaning there could be a "mild upside" to consensus estimates.
An acquisition by British consumer goods company Reckitt
Benckiser also grabbed investors' attention, adding to a
string of multi-billion-euro deals that have been unveiled in
the first weeks of the year.
Reckitt agreed to buy U.S. baby formula maker Mead Johnson
Nutrition for $16.6 billion, its biggest deal ever,
which will expand its presence in developing markets. Its shares
were up 0.3 percent.
"The target for cost savings is towards the low end of our
base case, whilst the growth outlook for Mead seems somewhat
unambitious. On this basis, the returns seem hard to justify.
There is scope for revenue synergies in time to bring to the
equation of course," Barclays said in a note.
"Although we have argued that Mead may seem a 'second best'
deal to more plain vanilla consumer health, there are clear
strategic merits," it added.
Elsewhere, more well-received company updates brightened the
Top STOXX gainer was mining and smelting firm Boliden
, up 5.5 percent, after its quarterly profit beat
estimates, while Swiss chemical company EMS Chemie hit
a record high after consensus-beating sales and profits.
A weak spot was the French cosmetics giant L'Oreal.
Its shares fell 2 percent after sales growth was seen as
slightly below consensus.
Top STOXX loser was Just Eat, which tumbled 6.7
percent after CEO David Buttress unexpectedly stepped down.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Kevin Liffey)