* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.4 percent
* Dovish Fed minutes help equities to bounce
* Profit warnings heighten worries about German economy
* Suedzucker down 11.3 pct, Gerresheimer down 8.2 pct
By Liisa Tuhkanen
LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - European shares halted a two-day slide on Thursday, bouncing off two-month lows on expectations the Federal Reserve will not start hiking interest rates until the U.S. economy is strong enough to accept the move.
Disappointing outlook statements from two German companies injected some nerves into otherwise bullish market sentiment, however, and heightened worries about the state of Europe’s largest economy.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.4 percent by 1054 GMT at 1,324.58, rebounding from a two-month low of 1,315.25 points hit on the previous day.
Global equities rose following the release late on Wednesday of the minutes of the U.S. central bank’s Sept. 16-17 meeting.
In them, the Fed expressed concern the rising dollar could slow a needed rebound in inflation and highlighted economic turmoil in Europe and Asia, another factor behind its stance towards keeping an accommodative policy for the near future.
Precious metals miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources rose 6.8 percent and 7.5 percent respectively as gold prices climbed to their highest in two weeks on the back of the dovish minutes.
“Overall the Fed still seems to be very cautious and that might lend some support to equity markets. It has to sharpen its forward guidance in the next policy meeting, given the problems that we still see in the global economy,” said Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at Baader Bank in Munich.
“The market probably will find it hard to get a big support coming from fundamentals as we still have ongoing problems in Europe. But if earnings for the third quarter are not as bad as feared, then that could help the market to gain faith again.”
Shares in Europe’s largest sugar producer Suedzucker and drugs packaging firm Gerresheimer tumbled 11.3 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. The former warned it may find it tough to reach its profit target, while the latter was hit by analyst downgrades after publishing earnings guidance.
In yet another sign that Europe’s largest economy was faltering, figures showed on Thursday German exports slumped by 5.8 percent in August, their biggest fall since the height of the global financial crisis in January 2009.
On the upside, aluminium major Norsk Hydro was up 2.5 percent, tracking U.S. peer Alcoa which kicked off the reporting season on Wednesday by posting a stronger-than-expected increase in third-quarter profit.
The European earnings season will gather pace in the third week of October.
Analysts said recent sharp slides in the euro and commodity prices were set to provide a tailwind for European firms struggling against economic weakness, and soon break a streak of earnings downgrades that has already lasted 3-1/2 years.
Despite the day’s rebound in European equities, the sharp sell-off started in mid-September is starting to have a negative impact on capital market activities. French energy services firm Spie canceled its IPO on Thursday, blaming ‘volatile market conditions’.
Analysts said the share market remained vulnerable following Europe’s poor economic outlook. The FTSEurofirst 300 index had fallen 6.5 percent over the past three weeks before Thursday’s rebound.
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 Atul Prakash)