* FTSEurofirst 300 index gains 0.06 percent
* Italy outperforms as bond yields fall
* Caution ahead of Ukraine, EU election results (Adds detail, quotes, updates prices)
By Alistair Smout
EDINBURGH, May 23 (Reuters) - French real-estate firm Gecina bucked the trend of low volumes in European share trading on Friday, as investors generally steered clear of big bets ahead of a long weekend in Britain and elections in Europe and Ukraine.
Gecina fell 1.5 percent in volumes three times its 90-day average after a share placing worth roughly 1 percent of share capital.
The real-estate investment trust was one of the most heavily traded stock relative to its 90-day average on the FTSEurofirst 300, which saw trade across the index at a mere 50 percent of its average.
Some analysts had warned that the EU’s marathon parliamentary election, which ends on Sunday, could worry investors if strong performances by Eurosceptic parties undermined governments’ efforts to move towards greater integration.
But the prospect of the vote only affected share prices marginally on Friday, traders said.
Italian stocks gained 1.2 percent, the top performing index in Europe, with banks benefitting from lower sovereign bond yields despite uncertainty over the vote.
“It would need an extraordinary negative result to change a view of Europe where everything has been recovering recently. The bond market hasn’t taken fright, and that’s an indicator that equity markets will be supported,” said Veronika Pechlaner, who helps manage $13 billion of assets at Ashburton Investments.
“The elections are having an effect only at the margin.”
Britain’s FTSE 100 mildly underperformed, down 0.2 percent, after its anti-EU UKIP party made strong gains in local elections.
Meanwhile, Dutch blue-chips slightly outperformed after a Dutch exit poll for the EU elections indicated that the anti-Islam, Eurosceptic Freedom Party had fallen well short of its goal of topping the poll.
“Volumes are very low at the moment going into Bank Holiday weekend. The results we have seen to date in the elections are not a huge surprise, and have not led to any change in my view on the markets,” Neil Wilkinson, European equities fund manager at Royal London Asset Management, said.
At 1540 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.06 percent at 1,367.06 points after closing 0.1 percent higher in the previous session. The index climbed to 1,372.81 on May 15, its highest since 2008.
Russian shares came under pressure as tensions were high in Ukraine, where more than a dozen servicemen were reported killed on Thursday in a clash with pro-Russian separatists. Ukraine votes on Sunday in a presidential election.
Volumes in Russia-exposed stocks, such as Renault, Raiffeisen Bank and Carlsberg, were especially light.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up