European shares hit seven-year high, all eyes on ECB
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 pct, hits 7-year high
* Germany's DAX up 0.7 pct, hits fresh record high
* Swiss shares recover after last week's correction
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Jan 19 (Reuters) - European shares hit a seven-year high on Monday, lifted by growing expectations that the European Central Bank is about to embark on a bond-buying programme to support the euro zone economy.
Shares in Swiss blue chips paced the gains, with Swiss benchmark index SMI up 3.2 percent, bouncing back from last week's sharp correction after the central bank's shock decision to scrap its cap on the Swiss franc, a move that sent the currency soaring and will hurt the country's exporters.
Julius Baer featured among the top gainers, up 5.3 percent, after the private bank said it did not suffer any losses soon after the Swiss National Bank's decision to abandon a three-year-old cap on the franc.
Shares in a number of Italian banks surged, lifted by press reports about a planned government reform that could abolish a rule granting one vote to each shareholder regardless of the size of their stake.
Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna was up 8.3 percent, Banco Popolare up 8.9 percent and UBI up 6.2 percent. Continuación...