European shares steady, head for 4th straight positive quarter
* FTSEurofirst 300 index little changed
* Solvay boosts European chemicals sector
* easyJet falls on rating downgrade
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - European equities steadied in afternoon trading on Monday, with gains in chemicals shares, led by Belgian group Solvay, offset by weaker travel and leisure stocks after easyJet slumped following a rating downgrade.
European chemicals shares rose 0.9 percent, the top sectoral gainer in Europe, supported by Solvay after analysts at Exane, the top-ranked broker on the stock according to StarMine, upgraded their rating to "outperform" from "neutral". Solvay shares rose 3.8 percent.
The broader market was also supported by Dutch conglomerate Philips, which rose 4.3 percent after saying it will merge its Lumileds LED components and automotive lighting divisions into a standalone subsidiary that could potentially be spun off.
However, gains were eclipsed by a 0.9 percent fall in travel and leisure index, pressured by easyJet that slumped 6.6 percent, with traders citing a rating cut by Bank of America Merrill Lynch to "underperform" from "neutral".
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent to 1,369.42 points by 1501 GMT after moving in and out of positive territory during the day. However, it headed for a fourth straight quarter of gains and analysts said the longer-term outlook remained positive. Continuación...