* FTSEurofirst 300 and Euro STOXX up over 1 pct
* SABMiller up 23 pct on InBev takeover approach
* Asian markets up in run-up to Fed rate meeting
* Strong Richemont results lift luxury good stocks
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, Sept 16 (Reuters) - European shares were higher at midday on Wednesday, with M&A hopes sending SABMiller and InBev sharply higher while the broader market was underpinned by overnight gains on Wall Street and in Asia.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index advanced 1.2 percent while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also 1.1 percent.
SABMiller rose 23 percent to a six-month high after the company said rival InBev intended to make an acquisition proposal in a deal brokers said would generate strong synergies but could raise competition issues in U.S. and China.
InBev, the world’s largest brewer, said there was no certainty the approach would result in an offer or agreement. Its shares rose more than 7 percent.
Cartier owner Richemont surged 6.5 percent after reporting higher sales, boosting the shares of its rivals such as Burberry and LVMH, while Zara clothes retailer Inditex was up 3.9 percent after reporting higher sales.
However, shares in Zodiac slumped 21 percent after the French aircraft cabin and systems maker warned that delays to its production of aircraft seats would hit profits.
Asian shares followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday, albeit in thin volume, and short-term U.S. bond yields held near 4-1/2 year highs as investors braced for the possibility of the first U.S interest rate hike since 2006.
The FTSEurofirst has risen nearly 10 percent from a low last month. Yet it also remains down by a similar amount from its peak two months ago, due to concerns about the impact to markets if the Fed does raise rates and worries over a China slowdown.
“I’d be looking to sell into rallies. The underlying global economy has stalled,” said Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.
Torrison said some investors were buying small positions in European financial stocks as banks and insurers often outperform in a higher interest rate environment since higher rates can boost their profits.
Nevertheless, higher rates are typically bad for equities as they boost the appeal of bonds and cash by raising returns on those assets, and an interest rate hike can also lead to higher debt costs for companies listed on stock markets.
Hantec Markets’ analyst Richard Perry said equity traders would be looking to the bond and foreign exchange markets for direction, and added that any strength in the U.S. dollar could be good for European shares as it would help European exporters.
The European Central Bank’s economic stimulus measures would provide further support for European stocks, added traders, with the FTSEurofirst still up 4 percent since the start of 2015.
“Any strength in the dollar would be positive for the German DAX,” said Perry.
Today’s European research round-up
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v (Editing by Hugh Lawson)