* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct, hits fresh 7-year high
* Release of U.S. payroll data likely delayed due to snow
* Thomas Cook up 19 pct after China’s Fosun buys stake
* $35 bln poured into Europe stocks, bonds since QE unveiled
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, March 6 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday, extending a rally which has propelled regional indexes to seven-year highs, with Thomas Cook jumping after a Chinese investor bought a stake in the travel group.
China’s Fosun International, which recently took over France’s Club Mediterranee, acquired a 5 percent stake in the British firm and said it would seek to double it to 10 percent, sending Thomas Cook’s shares up 19 percent.
Investors awaited U.S. monthly jobs figures. February non-farm payrolls data is forecast to show a 240,000 rise, down from a 257,000 gain in January. It would mark the 12th straight month of increases above 200,000, the longest such run since 1994.
“There is still a debate raging over whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates at mid-year or later. So from that point of view, stronger employment data could be seen to favour a June rate hike,” said Edmund Shing, global equity fund manager at BCS Asset Management.
Due to a late opening for U.S. federal government agencies in Washington on Friday because of snow, the monthly data due at 1330 GMT will likely be delayed.
At 1148 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,573.96 points, a level not seen since late 2007.
The benchmark index is up nearly 15 percent so far this year, in a rally fuelled by the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme starting this month which has prompted global investors to increase their exposure to European equities.
According to EPFR Global, investors committed over $6 billion to Europe equity and bond funds in the past week, taking their combined inflows since the ECB announced its programme in late January past the $35 billion mark.
“A lot of stocks have already reached our targets, but the positive trend in European shares and the big investment flows coming in are quite powerful, so we recommend to follow the trend for now,” Barclays France director Franklin Pichard said.
Among standout movers, Bureau Veritas fell 3.7 percent after French investment group Wendel sold 10.9 percent of the certification group at a final price of 20.32 euros per share.
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 Atul Prakash in London; editing by Andrew Roche