* FTSEurofirst 300 ends up 0.1 pct after hitting 7-year high
* Steelmakers surge 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 ended slightly higher 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.
Finland’s Outokumpu jumped 18 percent, Spain’s Acerinox gained 6 percent and Luxembourg-based Aperam soared 9.9 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 24.5 percent after a Chinese investor bought a stake in the travel group. 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.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.1 percent higher at 1,570.79 points, after hitting a seven-year high during the session. It gained 0.5 percent on the week, posting its fifth weekly gain in a row.
European stocks managed to ignore Wall Street, where stocks retreated on Friday morning- with the S&P 500 down 1 percent and poised for its second straight weekly drop - after a much stronger-than-expected monthly jobs report cemented expectations for an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year and possibly sooner than anticipated.
“These job figures are highlighting the widening gap between U.S. and European monetary policies. People are booking profits on U.S. stocks and rushing into Europe where quantitative easing is just starting,” said Arnaud Scarpaci, fund manager at Montaigne Capital.
“After such a rally, we’re ripe for a pull-back in Europe, but the investment inflows are so strong that the dips remain shallow.”
The FTSEurofirst 300 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.
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