German data helps keep European shares near highs
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 pct, Dax up 0.3 pct
* Strong German retail sales help sentiment
* Portugal's PCP, BPI rally on merger speculation
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - European equity indexes hovered close to multi-year highs on Tuesday, helped by better-than-expected German retail sales data and merger speculation in the Portuguese banking sector.
German retail sales rose more by 2.9 percent month-on-month, and 5.3 percent year-on-year, in January, more than economists had expected. That helped Germany's DAX index rise 0.3 percent to test an all-time high hit on Monday.
"We're buying the dips and when it reaches new highs we take a little bit of profit, but not too much," Markus Huber, a senior trader at Peregrine & Black, said.
Shares in Portugal's Banco BPI and Banco Comercial Portugues rose 6.5 percent and 5.5 percent respectively, on speculation about a possible merger.
This has been proposed by BPI shareholder Isabel dos Santos to stave off a takeover attempt by Spain's CaixaBank, according to the magazine Expresso. Continuación...