European shares advance towards highs; Maersk up
* FTSEurofirst 300 closes 0.6 percent higher
* A.P. Moller-Maersk rises after results
* BNP Paribas falls on U.S. investigation concerns
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - European shares finished higher on Wednesday, with Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk gaining after its profit beat forecasts and German utilities rising on the back of broker upgrades.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 ended 0.6 percent higher at 1,364.76 points, just below last week's six-year peak. The index was helped by companies like Maersk and Germany's top utilities E.ON and RWE.
E.ON and RWE rose 3.2 percent and 3.6 percent respectively after RBC Capital Markets upgraded E.ON to "outperform" from "underperform" and raised RWE to "sector perform" from "underperform".
Maersk rose 3.9 percent as profit at its container shipping business, a bellwether for global trade, more than doubled in the first quarter. That exceeded net profit forecasts and prompted it to raise its outlook for the full year.
"Our quant model has a 12-month return forecast of 10 percent (for Maersk). Today's results will likely increase estimates and return forecast. We remain positive on Maersk in 2014," said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank. Continuación...