* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.5 pct
* Athens’ ATG up 3.1 percent as banks rally after ECB test
* Commerzbank gains after dividend news, HSBC slips
* Electrolux down as U.S. rejects proposal on GE business (Updates prices at close)
By Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni
LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - European shares had a positive start to the week after business surveys (PMIs) from around the euro zone beat expectations, while Commerzbank’s better-than-expected results brightened a mixed picture for earnings season.
Traders also noted supportive comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) after its president, Mario Draghi, said in an interview over the weekend that it was ready to do what it takes to keep its medium-term inflation target on course.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 percent at the close, reversing early losses after weak Chinese data sparked global growth concerns, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.5 percent at the close.
“We’ve seen some strong German PMI figures which does breathe some optimism back into the market,” Charles Hanover Investments advisory investment manager, Jonathan Roy, said, noting that investors were being driven back into equities on the expectation of higher earnings and more liquidity.
Greek shares outperformed as investors welcomed the outcome of ECB stress tests on its four main banks.
Athens’ ATG index was up 3.1 percent, lifted by gains of nearly 30 percent in Alpha Bank and Eurobank , while Piraeus Bank rose 18.3 percent and the National Bank of Greece was up 7.7 percent.
The ECB assessment found that the four banks had a collective capital shortfall of 14.4 billion euros, less than the 25 billion maximum earmarked for bank recapitalisation as part of the country’s latest bailout programme.
“The Greek banking stress test results released over the weekend revealed that Greek banks are doing better than expected and consequently need less of a cash infusion than originally thought,” Peregrine & Black sales trader Markus Huber said.
Huber said sentiment in European stocks remained positive amid expectations of gains going into the end of the year.
Among standout gainers, Commerzbank rose 6.6 percent after the German bank said it would pay a dividend for the first time since 2007 as its recovery gains ground.
But elsewhere in the sector, HSBC fell 0.8 percent in spite of a better-than-expected 32-percent rise in pretax profit for the third quarter, thanks to reduced costs.
Electrolux dropped 5.4 percent after the U.S. Justice Department rejected the Swedish appliance maker’s offer to settle a fight over whether it would be allowed to buy General appliance business.
French carmaker Renault rose 4.2 percent. According to data published on Sunday, French car registrations rose 1 percent in October, with Renault recovering some lost ground, while rival PSA Peugeot Citroen saw a fall.
Today’s European research round-up (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Louise Ireland)