Gains in insurers keep European stocks steady before ECB
* Aviva, Hannover Re among top gainers after results
* Lagardere slumps
* Expectations of more easing from ECB later
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - European shares were steady on Thursday, helped by gains in insurers such as Aviva and Hannover Re, while expectations of more stimulus measures from the European Central Bank also supported equities.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index and the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index both rose by 0.1 percent.
The ECB is set to unveil its second stimulus cocktail in three months on Thursday, spurred by fears that low energy costs are feeding into wages and prices, potentially perpetuating ultra-low inflation.
The euro zone's central bank is widely expected to cut its deposit rate deeper into negative territory and adjust its 1.5 trillion euro asset-buying scheme, hoping to boost prices after inflation dipped back into negative territory last month.
Prospects of more action from the ECB put the euro under pressure on currency markets, and this in turn helped European stocks, since a weaker euro makes European companies' exports more affordable overseas. Continuación...