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* FTSEurofirst 300 pares early losses, rallies after Draghi
* Euro zone gloom seen curbing gains
* Credit Agricole CEO raps France’s lack of ‘clear vision’
By Blaise Robinson and Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS/LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - European shares pared early losses and ended higher on Thursday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank’s governing council was unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional measures if needed.
Draghi said the ECB aims to increase the size of its balance sheet towards the levels of 2012, repeating language that had annoyed some policymakers.
“He’s still suggesting that QE (quantitative easing) is on the table,” said Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry.
Earlier this week, sources told Reuters national central bankers in the euro area planned to challenge Draghi over what they see as his secretive management style and erratic communication and will urge him to act more collegially.
The bankers are particularly angered that Draghi effectively set a target for increasing the ECB’s balance sheet immediately after the policy-making governing council explicitly agreed not to make any figure public, the sources said.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.2 percent higher at 1,351.53 points. The benchmark index was down 0.4 percent before the start of Draghi’s press briefing in the afternoon.
“It goes in the right direction and it will certainly support the market in the next little while. But at the same time, macro data out of Europe remains quite grim, so it’s difficult to be bullish,” said Arnaud Scarpaci, fund manager at Montaigne Capital.
“In this context, I see European stock indexes stuck in a range at least until the end of the year.”
Weak economic data over the past few months have knocked back European stock markets from peak levels reached earlier in the year, putting pressure on the ECB to unveil fresh measures to support growth.
Further signs of frailty in the euro zone emerged on Thursday as data showed that industrial orders in Germany, its biggest economy, rose by only 0.8 percent in September.
Despite the market’s rally on Thursday, shares in Credit Agricole lost 5.8 percent after the lender posted a fall in revenues at home, blaming French government policy.
“The absence of a clear vision and lack of coherence in (French) economic policies is weighing on confidence and therefore investment and economic activity,” Credit Agricole CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet told reporters on a conference call.
Shares in rival Societe Generale fell 2.5 percent after the bank posted earnings, with traders citing disappointing figures in French retail lending.
Electrical gearmaker Legrand slid 2.8 percent after reporting that sales growth and margin targets had become tough to reach in the weakening macroeconomic environment.
Swiss staffing company Adecco also fell, down 1.4 percent after warning that the pace of revenue growth had slowed, while German cement maker HeidelbergCement bucked the trend with a 5.1 percent uplift after posting a better-than-expected rise in core profit.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Gareth Jones