Stronger autos help European shares to gain ground
* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.4 percent
* Automakers race higher, up 1.5 percent
* French retailer Casino top gainer on JP Morgan upgrade
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - European shares advanced on Wednesday, with automakers leading the market higher on a positive growth outlook for some major companies, although caution ahead of the European earnings season could keep gains under check.
The STOXX Europe 600 Automobile and Auto Parts index rose 1.5 percent, the top sectoral gainer, with Volkswagen and Porsche up 3 percent and 4.2 percent respectively on a positive Bernstein note, traders said.
Bernstein raised its ratings on the two companies to "outperform" from "market-perform" and said Volkswagen had extensive exposure to a European market recovery.
Automakers helped the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares to gain 0.4 percent to 1,339.17 points by 0818 GMT after falling to its lowest level in more than a week in the previous session.
Analysts said the stock market needed some catalysts to resume its rally and focus would be on European earnings, which will gather pace later this month. Continuación...