* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.5 pct, hits fresh 7-year high
* Stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data lifts sentiment
* Steelmakers rise after sources say EU to impose duties
* $35 bln poured into Europe stocks, bonds since QE unveiled
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, March 6 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Friday with shares in stainless steel producers surging after news the European Union was set to impose anti-dumping duties on imports from China and Taiwan.
Stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data also fuelled the rally. February non-farm payrolls data came at 295,000, much higher than a consensus of 240,000 and marking the 12th straight month of increases above 200,000, the longest such run since 1994.
Shares in European stainless steel producers were the top gainers on Friday, with in Outokumpu jumping 15.7 percent, Acerinox gaining 5.1 percent and Aperam soaring 11 percent.
Sources told Reuters the EU will impose anti-dumping duties later this month on imports of stainless steel cold-rolled sheet from China and Taiwan. The Commission plans to set tariffs of about 25 percent for imports from China and of about 12 percent for Taiwanese product, following a complaint lodged in May 2014 by the European steel producers association.
Thomas Cook also featured among the top gainers, jumping 21 percent 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.
At 1342 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,578.00 points, a level not seen since late 2007.
The benchmark index is up 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.
Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX index up 0.4 percent, and France’s CAC 40 up 0.2 percent.
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
Editing by Toby Chopra