European shares start quarter with gains after PMI boost
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct, after 16 pct gain in Q1
* Spanish, Italian shares hit highest since 2010 after PMIs
* Barry Callebaut up 6.6 pct after posting strong results (Updates with closing prices)
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - European shares began the quarter with gains on Wednesday, after data showed manufacturing activity across the euro zone accelerated faster than previously estimated last month.
Markit's final March manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) reached a 10-month high of 52.2, beating a preliminary reading of 51.9 to provide another sign the bloc's economy is recovering.
The bullish PMI readings helped Spain's IBEX rise 0.6 percent and Italy's FTSE MIB gain 1 percent. Each touched its highest level since 2010.
Banks were the biggest winners, with the STOXX Europe 600 banks sub-index up 1.1 percent. Spanish banks Popular , Banco de Sabadell and Bankia rose 2.8 to 1.6 percent.
"Spain in general looks rather good, and recent data been coming in better than expected," said Markus Huber, sales trader at Peregrine & Black. "Banks look increasingly attractive, because they have a lot of catching up to do." Continuación...