European shares near seven-year highs ahead of ECB
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, near seven-year high
* DAX rises above 10,000, hovers below record high
* Energy shares sag again as Brent fails to bounce back
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Dec 4 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Thursday, with a benchmark index hovering near a seven-year high, helped by expectations the European Central Bank will embark on a sovereign bond-buying programme in coming months to boost the economy.
ECB President Mario Draghi is set to present updated forecasts for growth in output and inflation at a news conference following an ECB meeting on Thursday.
Investors expect Draghi to open the door wider to a U.S.-style government bond-buying scheme, seen strongly supportive for the equity market. He is not expected to announce such a programme on Thursday, but markets will scour his post-meeting news conference for any clues to when it might start.
"The ECB will probably launch a quantitative easing programme at some point," said Patrick Mange, head of emerging markets strategy at BNP Investment Partners, which has 497 billion euros ($612 billion) in assets under management.
"The liquidity that this will bring, along with the liquidity from the Bank of Japan, will partly offset tighter U.S. policy. There will be a bit more volatility in markets, but globally, equities are quite attractive versus sovereign bonds." Continuación...