* FTSEurofirst 300 index closes 0.2 percent higher
* Miners advance, mirror stronger metals prices
* Glencore “groundwork” for likely merger with Rio: report
* Nokia gains on hopes for value of patents portfolio
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - European shares ended slightly higher on Monday after surging in the previous session on further signs that the U.S economy is gathering momentum, with miners gaining the most driven by stronger industrial metals prices.
The STOXX Europe 600 Basic Resources index rose 1.5 percent as prices of copper, aluminium and zinc climbed 0.7 to 2.0 percent in expectations of stronger demand for raw materials in countries such as the United States.
Miners Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Fresnillo and Antofagasta rose 1.6 to 3.8 percent.
Rio Tinto’s American Depository Receipts were 7.4 percent higher after the European market close on a Bloomberg report, quoting people familiar with the situation, saying Glencore was laying the groundwork for a potential merger with Rio Tinto Group in 2015.
A Glencore spokesman said “we don’t comment on market rumour or speculation,” in response to the report.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index finished 0.2 percent higher at 1,350.16 points, having risen 0.9 percent on Friday’s data showing that U.S. employers ramped up hiring in September and that the jobless rate fell to a six-year low.
“The U.S. job numbers were reassuring. The way the market appears to be reacting to these numbers suggests that investors are more concerned about the growth outlook at this point in time than possible interest rate hikes,” HSBC equities strategist Robert Parkes said.
Among other sharp gainers, Nokia rose 2.7 percent on hopes for the value of its patents portfolio after Microsoft announced on Saturday that Samsung Electronics paid it as much as $1 billion in smartphone patent royalties last year.
Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies said the amount was encouraging for Nokia, which still holds a large patent portfolio dating back to the time it was the world’s top handset maker.
Shares in exporters such as Airbus, up 0.7 percent, were given a lift from the euro’s slide against the dollar. For Airbus, one of Europe’s most dollar-sensitive companies, a 10 cent move in the euro against the dollar translates into a 1 billion euro swing in profit at the operating level.
Analysts said the recent fall in the euro -- down 11 percent against the dollar since early May -- had fuelled hopes of a boost to the region’s corporate earnings. The recent slide in the euro should give a lift of 3-6 percent to corporate earnings, analysts and fund managers said.
“The steady drop in the euro is boosting sentiment among equity investors in Europe. It won’t have an immediate impact on the next earnings season, but people are starting to price it in as a tailwind for the coming quarters,” said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France.
In Europe, German data fuelled expectations that the European Central Bank could launch a United States-style quantitative easing programme in the coming quarters to prop up the euro zone economy.
Data showed German industrial orders posted their biggest drop in August since 2009 due to the subdued euro zone economy and uncertainty caused by crises abroad.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki; Editing by David Goodman/Ruth Pitchford)