Encouraging data helps European shares to finish higher
* FTSEurofirst 300 ends 0.3 pct higher after early losses
* Encouraging European data supports market
* Chinese data weighs on resource-related shares
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - European shares climbed higher to end just below a recent 7-1/2-year high on Tuesday, with forecast-beating business surveys from Germany and France offsetting poor Chinese factory data.
Equities recovered from early falls as purchasing managers' surveys showed Germany's private sector grew in March at its strongest rate since July and France's private sector expanded for the second straight month.
"Today's data further shows that Europe is on the road to recovery and we are heading in the right direction. This is also supportive of our view that European earnings are going to deliver an upside surprise in 2015," HSBC Global Research equity strategist Robert Parkes said.
"Companies are not cheap any more, but valuations are not yet stretched and we see more upside potential for European equities in the coming months," he added.
Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent, outperforming the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares that closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,604.36 points after falling to 1,592.51 earlier on the back of poor Chinese factory sector data. The FTSEurofirst hit its highest since mid-2007 on Friday. Continuación...