Robust Spanish data, ECB help Europe stocks extend rally

jueves 3 de abril de 2014 10:56 GYT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up pct, rising for 8th session in row

* Madrid's IBEX outperforms after strong PMIs

* ECB opens door to unconventional measures

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, April 3 (Reuters) - European shares rallied on Thursday, with some national indexes hitting multi-year highs, after the European Central Bank opened the door for unconventional measures to thwart the risk of deflation.

Spanish stocks strongly outperformed as data showed the country's service sector expanded more than expected last month, fuelling hopes economic recovery is picking up pace.

Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index for the service sector, which makes up about half of economic output, rose to 54.0 in March from 53.7 in February, marking the fifth straight month the index was above the 50 line separating growth from contraction.

Spanish banks led the rally, with BBVA rising 3.3 percent and Banco Popular gaining 3.2 percent. Madrid's IBEX surged 1.7 percent, to 10,602.6 points and hitting a near-three year high.

"Sooner (rather) than later we will see the IBEX hitting 11,000 points. People don't want to miss the rally, so there's a strong buying pressure in the market," said Margarita Rivas, senior investment strategist at GVC Gaesco Valores, in Madrid.   Continuación...