European shares gain as auto stocks pick up speed
* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.5 percent
* Automakers top gainers, up 1.3 percent
* French retailer Casino up on JP Morgan upgrade
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - European shares rebounded on Wednesday, led by automakers, although caution ahead of the European earnings season could keep gains under check.
The STOXX Europe 600 Automobile and Auto Parts index rose 1.3 percent, making it the top sectoral gainer. Volkswagen rose 2.8 percent and Porsche 3.9 percent after Bernstein raised its ratings for the shares, traders said.
Bernstein lifted its ratings on both companies to "outperform" from "market perform." It also said Volkswagen had extensive exposure to a European market recovery.
Automakers helped the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares to gain 0.5 percent to 1,339.71 points by 1037 GMT. The day before, it had fallen to its lowest level in more than a week.
"Overall, worldwide demand for automobiles is fairly good," said Philippe Gijsels, the head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets. "Also, auto companies are in a much better shape now after cutting costs and becoming more efficient following very difficult circumstances in the past years. Continuación...