European shares hit 7-year high as Italian banks rally
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, hits 7-year high
* Swiss shares recover after last week's correction
* Italian co-operative banks boosted by reform hopes
By Blaise Robinson and Francesco Canepa
LONDON/PARIS, Jan 19 (Reuters) - European shares hit a seven-year high on Monday as Italian banks rallied, boosted by the prospect of a significant corporate governance revamp, and Swiss shares clawed back some of last week's sharp losses.
Broader market sentiment has been supported by expectations the European Central Bank will unveil plans to buy sovereign bonds at the end of a policy meeting on Thursday in a bid to boost inflation expectations in the region.
Shares in co-operative Italian banks rose sharply on the back of a draft government decree which would abolish a rule granting one vote to each shareholder regardless of the size of their stake.
Banca Popolare di Milano, Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna, Banco Popolare and UBI were up between 7.5 percent and 11.3 percent.
Swiss bank Julius Baer was the top gainer among larger European stocks as it rose 5.5 percent. 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. Continuación...