* FTSEurofirst 300 led higher by miners, euro zone banks
* First Chinese interest rate cut in more than two years
* Comments from ECB’s Draghi help to boost sentiment
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Nov 21 (Reuters) - European stocks rallied on Friday, with a benchmark regional index hitting a two-month high, propelled by dovish comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and a surprise interest rate cut from China’s central bank.
Regional mining shares, highly sensitive to China’s economic growth, featured among the top gainers, with Rio Tinto gaining 5.5 percent and BHP Billiton 5.9 percent. The STOXX basic resources sector index, which had tumbled nearly 20 percent in the past four months, rose 5.6 percent.
“It comes right after China’s disappointing PMI figures showing that manufacturing activity is getting dangerously close to contraction,” IG France chief market analyst, Alexandre Baradez, said.
“China’s central bank is now following the path of the Fed, the ECB and the BoJ. Central banks are really driving markets.”
China’s rate cut, the first in more than two years, was in response to stalled factory growth and persistent weakness in real estate. Both are dragging on broader activity and curbing demand for everything from furniture to cement and steel.
“This comes as a surprise from China’s central bank. They’ve been reluctant to use rates to boost the economy because of fears of fuelling a credit bubble, so this shows that they are increasingly concerned about the economic outlook,” Saxo Bank trader Andrea Tueni said.
By 1410 GMT the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 2.1 percent at 1,384.81 points, breaking above a tight range started in late October and surging to a level not seen in two months.
Sentiment was also lifted on Friday by comments from ECB chief Mario Draghi which fuelled speculation that the ECB will inject further monetary stimulus into the euro zone economy.
Speaking at a congress in Frankfurt, Draghi highlighted weak economic activity indicators from the bloc and said the central bank would broaden the size, pace and composition of its asset purchase programme if needed.
Italy’s MIB index and Spain’s IBEX both surged 2.8 percent. Euro zone banks, which have a high exposure to the region’s economy and significant holdings of sovereign debt, rose 3 percent.
Italy’s Banco Popolare was up 5 percent and Spain’s Banco de Sabadell 4.1 percent.
French conglomerate Bouygues rose 3.6 percent after the chief executive of Altice said the group is open to buying smaller rival Bouygues Telecom.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Louise Ireland)