* STOXX 600 up 0.5 pct to nearly 16-month high
* Germany's DAX 1.1 pct away from all-time high
* Commodity stocks, industrials provide support
* H&M drops after results
(Writes through, adds closing prices)
By Danilo Masoni and Andrea Lentz
MILAN/FRANKFURT, March 30 European shares
climbed on Thursday, helped by gains among industrials and
commodity stocks, while German blue chips came within striking
distance of their all-time highs.
The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.5 percent to
380.4 points, its highest level in nearly 16 months, while
Germany's DAX added 0.4 percent to 12,256 points, just
1.1 percent below a record high hit almost two years ago.
Traders said investors were growing confident about
prospects for the region's stocks as the economy improves,
offsetting political jitters ahead of elections in France and
Germany and Britain's divorce from the European Union.
"Chances of a new all-time high is attracting investors and
luring them into buying more shares," said QC Partners wealth
manager Thomas Altmann, referring to the steady gains seen in
the German blue chip index.
"Risks are completely ignored. At the same time, Brexit
negotiations can lead to unpleasant surprises at any time," he
European shares have risen more than 18 percent since the
lows hit in June last year in a rally that has been supported by
improving economic data, brighter earnings and expectations of a
big fiscal stimulus in the United States.
"Several factors have combined to convince us that it would
be wise to reinvest in European equities and to do so
immediately," Geoffroy Goenen, Head of Fundamental Europe Equity
Management at Candriam, said in a note.
Goenen said that once the French elections are over he
expects global investors to reinvest massively in the region.
Europe's basic resources index was the biggest
gainer on Thursday, up 1.6 percent, supported by higher metal
prices and gains among heavyweight miners Glencore, Rio
Tinto and Anglo American, which rose between 1
percent and 2.3 percent.
The oil and gas index also rallied, up 1.2 percent,
after crude oil prices jumped after Kuwait gave its backing for
an extension of OPEC production cuts in an attempt to reduce
global oversupply. The index has been the worst performer in
Europe so far but some investors believe the sell-off is
UK oil explorer firm Tullow Oil was the biggest
gainer in its sector and on the broader STOXX index, ending up
Gains among industrial stocks also provided support with
Germany's Siemens up 1.5 percent, France's Saint
Gobain and Schneider Electric up 2.1 and 1.1
Among the fallers was H&M, which fell more than 4
percent, close to 4-years lows, following a strong open.
The retailer posted a smaller-than-expected fall in pretax
profit for the first quarter but analysts voiced concerns over
its rising inventory levels, as well as a revolving credit
(Additional reporting by Kit Rees and by Anika Ross; Editing by