19 de mayo de 2015 / 14:58 / en 3 años

European shares return near multi-year highs

* European equities boosted by ECB’s Coeure comments

* ECB to front-load asset purchases in May, June: Coeure

* Greek shares rise on prospect of deal with creditors (Updates prices, adds Reuters poll)

By Lionel Laurent and Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - European shares rose back to near multi-year highs on Tuesday after a European Central Bank policymaker said it would front-load an asset purchase scheme, aimed at boosting the euro economy.

The comments led the euro to trade below $1.12 for the first time in a week, juicing investor appetite for stocks - especially in the exporter-heavy German DAX index. Euro weakness in the first three months of the year added 17 billion euros ($19 billion)to German blue-chip revenues, according to EY.

Athens’ stock market, which has consistently underperformed this year due to worries over Greece’s debt, also rose after the Greek labour minister said Athens would soon conclude a deal that could unlock more loans.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 1.5 percent at 1424 GMT, shrugging off a survey that showed German investor morale fell by more than expected in May.

The FTSEurofirst has now recovered its losses since the start of the month, with some investors saying the past few weeks’ volatility linked to the roller coaster sell-off in the bond market had not altered their positive stance on equities.

“I still think that bonds are risky and that equities remain the asset of choice,” said Francois Savary, chief strategist at Swiss bank Reyl.

Some fund managers warned however that European equities were by no means cheap and that it was time to trim exposure to blue-chip, dividend-paying quality companies in the current environment.

“I have tactically cut back on financials because of the growing risk around Greece and have increased my exposure to real estate,” said Michele Patri, portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein.

“I am not any more in ultra-high-quality names. I don’t think the market valuation is cheap.”

A majority of economists polled by Reuters said the euro zone economy is on a sustainable recovery path although growth will now plateau.

Among big share-price movers, media group Reed Elsevier rose by 2 percent after Goldman Sachs raised its rating to “buy” from “neutral”.

However, Vodafone fell 3.5 percent as some traders said the mobile network operator’s guidance had been slightly below forecasts, even though Vodafone returned to quarterly sales growth.

According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, 61 percent of the companies on the pan-European STOXX 600 index have beaten or met market expectations with their first quarter results, while 39 percent have missed expectations.

Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today’s European research round-up ($1 = 0.8975 euros) (Editing by Tom Heneghan/Ruth Pitchford)

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