* FTSEurofirst 300 ends up 0.1 pct at 1,132.69 points
* FTSEurofirst 300 finishes at 18-month closing high
* Euro STOXX 50 slips 0.1 pct to 2,601.37 points
* Some traders back selling on rallies
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Dec 7 European shares edged higher on
Friday, lifted by major healthcare stocks and telecoms group
Nokia, although some traders said they would look to
sell equities due to an uncertain economic backdrop.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended up
0.1 percent to 1,132.69 points - an 18-month closing high and
its best finish since ending at 1,142.18 points on May 31, 2011.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index,
which had also reached a 2012 intraday peak of 2,617.83 points
this week, slipped 0.1 percent to 2,601.37 points.
Nokia was the best performer on the FTSEurofirst,
up 5.3 percent as investors cheered its smartphone sales deal
this week with China Mobile, although the stock is
still down around 20 percent so far this year.
"It's onwards and upwards for that stock. It looks as if
Nokia has turned a corner," said Terry Torrison, managing
director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.
Healthcare stocks such as Roche and Sanofi
also added the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300.
Roche rose 0.9 percent while Sanofi gained 0.7 percent,
which traders said was due to upgrades on the stocks by Morgan
Stanley, which raised its rating on Roche to "overweight" from
However, some analysts noted the fact that some key European
equity indexes had failed to close above important technical
Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths said
the fact that the Euro STOXX 50 had failed to end above levels
of around 2,610 points - a level from which it has previously
fallen back - could herald more slight declines next week.
"It's stalled at the previous highs, which means we might
drift lower next week," he said.
ITALY AND SPAIN UNDERPERFORM
European equity markets also drifted off earlier intraday
highs on Friday due to a lack of progress in the United States
over a deal to avoid growth-curbing austerity measures.
U.S. politicians remain in deadlock over talks to avert a
The term refers to a combination of U.S. government spending
cuts and tax rises due to be implemented under existing law in
early 2013 that could hit the U.S. economy, although most
investors expect politicians to reach a deal eventually.
The uncertain economic backdrop was further underlined on
Friday by a rise in the bond yields of Spain and Italy,
following fresh political tension in Rome that has undermined
the position of Italy's Prime Minister.
Italy's FTSE MIB benchmark equity index fell 0.9
percent while Spain's IBEX declined by 0.8 percent, with
both debt-ridden countries struggling to cope with the effects
of the euro zone sovereign debt crisis.
HED Capital head Richard Edwards recommended that investors
sell Greek, Spanish and Italian equities.
"The competitiveness of Italy and Spain cannot be restored
easily. I wouldn't buy the market here. I think the best thing
is to sell on rallies," he said.