* DAX hits new record highs, over 12,000 points
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.6 pct
* Siemens rises on Egyptian power deals
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Monday and Germany’s DAX hit record highs, extending their recent sharp rally as investors bet that the weakened euro would boost the region’s economy and lift exporter earnings.
The DAX -- which factors in returns from dividends unlike many other European equity indexes -- was up by 1 percent to touch new record highs, breaking through the 12,000-point level.
The broader, pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.7 percent at 1,589.57 points, its highest since late 2007.
The DAX and other European stock markets have been lifted since the start of 2015 by the European Central Bank’s (ECB) launch of a new bond-buying programme which is aimed at boosting economic growth in Europe.
The bond-buying programme -- known as quantitative easing (QE) -- has pushed down bond yields, driving investors over to the better returns available from the stock market, and weakened the euro.
Although the euro currency recovered slightly on Monday, it has still lost about 25 percent of its value against the U.S dollar since May last year.
“As the steroid injection of ECB QE continues to swell the DAX, as well as the other Eurozone indices, investors remain enthralled with the region and seem committed to continuing its upswing,” said Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell.
Siemens was one of the top performers on the DAX, rising 1.6 percent to its highest level in around 7 years, after the German engineer won some Egyptian contracts.
Shares in Actelion also advanced 1.3 percent after the Swiss biopharmaceutical company announced positive results from its latest heart-drug trials.
However, shares in Lafarge fell 4.2 percent and Holcim dipped 1.3 percent as an argument deepened between the two cement majors over the terms of their planned merger.
Shares in Irish construction rival CRH -- which has agreed to buy assets from Lafarge and Holcim as they seek to win regulatory approval for their planned merger -- also fell 3 percent.
Many investors were also looking towards the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting beginning on Tuesday.
After successive months of strong jobs data, expectations have been growing that the Fed will point towards a June rate rise. Those expectations have also strengthened the U.S. dollar, which has in turn put more pressure on the euro currency.
The drop in the euro is seen translating into a 10-13 percent lift in European earnings in 2015. For U.S. companies, however, the stronger dollar is set to hit results.
“While the lower euro helps boost European stocks, it really is the strong dollar that has been sending U.S. shares lower. We could soon see analysts starting to forecast negative U.S. earnings growth for 2015,” said Mirabaud Securities’ senior equity sales trader, John Plassard, in Geneva.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)