* STOXX Europe 600 hits highest since 2000
* Pirelli, Enel boosts Italian index
* DAX underperforms, led by Siemens, K+S
* FTSE 100 hits record high; 7,000 mark in sight
By Francesco Canepa and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - A broad index of European shares hit its highest level in 15 years on Thursday, led by Italian stocks thanks to sharp gains in tyre maker Pirelli and utility Enel.
Shares in Enel rose 1.9 percent after it said it aims to raise profits and dividends over the next five years by focusing on emerging markets and green energy. Writedowns caused its 2014 net profit to fall 84 percent.
Pirelli rose 3.3 percent and briefly hit a 25-year high after an Italian daily said the tyre maker was working on a revamp plan that includes taking an Asian partner, the launch of a buyout offer and the de-listing of the group.
They helped Milan’s FTSE MIB index rise 1.1 percent, outperforming all major European indexes.
The STOXX Europe 600 of European shares closed up 0.6 percent at 400.83 points after hitting its highest level since September 2000 at 402.09 points.
European markets have been boosted by the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme, known as quantitative easing, which has depressed returns on bonds and knocked down the euro.
This has fuelled bets that a weaker euro would stimulate the region’s economy and corporate earnings.
“We are in a very overbought situation in the European market because everyone has poured money into it,” said Michael Testorf, co-portfolio manager of the RSQ International Equity Fund.
“(But) when the whole of QE filters though to the final consumer...you will see earnings surprises and a further economic upswing.”
Germany’s Dax lagged its regional peers, falling 0.2 percent as Siemens DE> and K&S retreated on concerns about the impact of lower commodity prices on their profits.
Shares in industrial group Siemens slid 4.2 percent after the group Chief Executive Joe Kaeser said on Thursday he was worried that the slump in oil prices is discouraging oil-exporting countries from investing in infrastructure.
Chemical firm K&S dropped 3.6 percent in heavy volume on reports of lower potash prices in deals struck by exporter Belarus.
The export-oriented Dax is still up over 20 percent so far this year, having benefited from the fall in the euro.
Britain’s FTSE 100 share index reached record highs after the Bank of England dampened prospects of interest rate rises in the near term.
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 Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by Mark Heinrich)