Putin comments help European shares to bounce back
* FTSEurofirst 300 ends 0.7 pct higher after early losses
* Putin's comments trigger relief rally
* Italy's FTSE MIB index outperforms
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - European shares changed course to climb higher in late trading on Tuesday after comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin eased concerns that tensions over Ukraine will escalate.
The stock market witnessed a relief rally after Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, signed a treaty on Tuesday making Crimea part of Russia but said he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine.
That raised expectations the market will resume its recent rally after tumbling on the geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and concerns about a slowdown in China.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.7 percent higher at 1,306.11 points, recovering from an earlier session low of 1,290.28. It fell more than 5 percent in about one week from a near 5-1/2-year high earlier this month and is still down 1 percent this year after surging 16 percent in 2013.
"The market has been rightly very worried that Putin's next move was some of the other eastern provinces of Ukraine," Macquarie strategist Daniel McCormack said. "If he is watering down expectations in that regard, that's obviously positive." Continuación...