* STOXX 600 up 0.4 percent; DAX gets closer to record high
* LSE, Deutsche Boerse rise after EU blocks merger deal
* Auto stocks rise helped by Daimler, upgrades
* Deutsche Bank outperforms amid optimism over cash call
(Adds details, closing prices)
By Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid
MILAN/LONDON, March 29 European shares rose on
Wednesday with little reaction to the well-flagged formal
announcement of Britain's intention to leave the European Union
and start an uncertain two-year process of negotiation
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4 percent
to 378.5 points, its highest closing level in nearly 16 months,
consolidating a rally that has been fuelled by brightening
economic prospects in the region after years of sluggish growth.
Prime Minister Theresa May formally began Brexit proceedings
on Wednesday, notifying EU Council President Donald Tusk that
Britain is leaving the bloc it joined in 1973.
"I take a fairly relaxed view of the forthcoming Brexit
negotiations," said Stefan Bielmeier, head of research and chief
economist at DZ BANK in Frankfurt. "They will lead to repeated
fluctuations, especially in the foreign exchange markets, but I
do not expect any sudden slumps in equity or currency markets".
Bielmeier said he believed Britain would probably bear most
of the brunt of the Brexit process, while he expected German
companies to react relatively flexibly by diverting their
investments and exports.
On Wednesday German blue chip index rose 0.4 percent to
12,203 points, its highest level since April 2015 and at a
striking distance from a record high of 12,390 points hit then.
German carmaker Daimler rose 1 percent after it
said it expected record sales for its Mercedes-Benz cars for the
first quarter. Its gains drove export-oriented autos
stocks up 0.5 percent. Automotive suppliers Faurecia
and Valeo benefited from broker upgrades.
Merger talks between London Stock Exchange and
Deutsche Boerse were halted after EU antitrust
regulators blocked the proposed deal, as expected, saying the
merger's size would have harmed competition.
LSE shares gained 2.7 percent, while Deutsche Boerse was up
Banks fell 0.2 percent, underperforming the broader
market, after sources told Reuters that European Central Bank
policymakers are wary of making any new change to their policy
message in April, signalling that easy-money is far from ending.
Deutsche Bank rose 1.3 percent, bucking the
weaker sector trend, as traders were upbeat about prospects for
its 8 billion euros cash call which was in its second week.
Rights to buy the news shares offered in the
recapitalization of the German heavyweight bank rose 5.4
Engie rose 2.9 percent to its highest in more
than four months after JP Morgan upgraded its view on the gas
and electricity supplier to overweight.
Top-ranked JPM analyst Vincent Ayral said Engie had reached
an inflection point, with the dilutive effects of the company's
transformation plan more than compensated by restructuring
gains, supportive FX, and organic growth.
3I Group gained 5.7 percent after Morgan Stanley
raised the private equity group to "overweight", saying the
value proposition of Benelux-based discount retailer Action, an
important part of 3I's portfolio, is not fully priced in to the
German online classified ads firm Scout24 plunged
8.9 percent after it posted results and a 2017 outlook below
Outside of the benchmark indexes, shares of Germany's
Aurelius slumped more than 35 percent with losses
accelerating into the close of trading. Investors remained
unconvinced with the company's rebuttal of short-seller Gotham
City's report on the stock.
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)