Europe shares extend rally on M&A, ECB policy talk
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.6 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.7 pct
* U.S. payrolls reassure on economic growth rate
* Report on potential European QE sparks late rally
* Lafarge, Holcim surge on merger talks
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, April 4 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Friday, boosted by M&A fever in construction, speculation about further stimulus by the European Central Bank and U.S. jobs data that suggested a solid pace of hiring for a second month in a row.
Shares in Lafarge surged 8.9 percent and Holcim rose 6.9 percent as the world's two largest cement makers said they are in merger talks. A deal could be Europe's biggest tie-up of the year to date creating a company with a stock market value of over $50 billion.
"On a geographical and industrial point of view, a merger would be meaningful," Natixis analyst Abdelkader Benchiha said. "Lafarge is strong is Africa and Middle East, where Holcim is almost absent. On the other hand, Holcim has a strong presence in Latin America, where Lafarge is not established."
Spanish and Italian shares also featured among the top gainers. Their advance accelerated during a late euro-zone rally sparked by a report that the European Central Bank has modelled the economic effects of buying 1 trillion euros ($1.37 trillion) of securities as part of a quantitative easing (QE) programme. Continuación...