European shares up on growth outlook, CAC hits 5-1/2-yr high
* FTSEurofirst up 0.2 pct, CAC hits highest since 2008
* Aegon gains 4 pct, Vodafone rises 1.7 pct
* AXA shares slip after disappointing results
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher in cautious trading on Friday, with France's CAC 40 hitting a 5-1/2-year peak as investors took their lead from gains on Wall Street and in Asia after robust U.S. factory data.
At 1126 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,341.14 points after rising as high as 1,345.26, the highest since late January. The CAC reached its highest since 2008 and was also up 0.2 percent.
Wall Street's S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent on Thursday and Japan's Nikkei rose almost 3 percent on Friday on figures showing U.S. factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in four years in February, a bullish indicator after some disappointing data.
"It is a positive sign that the U.S. economy is improving," David Battersby, investment manager at Redmayne-Bentley, said. "And if the economy is improving, then they will be sucking in imports. Things are getting back on track.
"Look at the companies that are international brands and have strong emerging market exposure because that's where, after the recent fallout, we have value," he said, adding that companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever and Diageo were quite attractive. Continuación...