Hopes of fresh ECB action help European stocks extend rally

viernes 28 de marzo de 2014 13:34 GYT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.8 pct, Italy's MIB up 1.5 pct

* Expectation of further ECB action boosts sentiment

* Europe equities snap streak of 38 weeks of inflows

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, March 28 (Reuters) - European stocks rallied on Friday, with Milan's benchmark index hitting a near three-year high, lifted by mounting expectations that the European Central Bank may ease policy next week to support the region's fragile economic recovery.

Speculation that China could step in to stimulate its economy also helped lift sentiment, boosting shares of metal and mining stocks, with Anglo American up 1.5 percent and Glencore Xstrata up 2 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.8 percent higher, at 1,332.29 points, while Milan's FTSE MIB index surged 1.5 percent, hitting a level not seen since May 2011.

Banco Popolare rose 7 percent and was the biggest gainer on the Italian index, the day after the lender set the price for a planned capital increase, while Telecom Italia gained 1.5 percent.

The MIB is up 13 percent so far this year, strongly outpacing other big European markets such as the UK's FTSE 100 , which has slipped 2 percent so far in 2014, and Germany's DAX, up 0.4 percent, as well as Wall Street's S&P 500, up 0.8 percent.   Continuación...