* FTSEurofirst 300 pares early losses, turns 0.8 pct higher
By Blaise Robinson and Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS/LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - European shares pared losses and rallied in afternoon trading on Thursday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank’s governing council was unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional measures, if needed.
Draghi said the ECB aims to increase the size of its balance sheet towards the levels of 2012, repeating language that had annoyed some policymakers by essentially setting a target for the expansion.
“He’s still suggesting that QE is on the table,” said Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry.
Earlier this week, sources told Reuters national central bankers in the euro area planned to challenge Draghi over what they see as his secretive management style and erratic communication and will urge him to act more collegially.
The bankers are particularly angered that Draghi effectively set a target for increasing the ECB’s balance sheet immediately after the policy-making governing council explicitly agreed not to make any figure public, the sources said.
At 1400 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.8 percent at 1,359.66 points. The benchmark index was down 0.4 percent before the start of Draghi’s press briefing.
Weak economic data over the past few months have knocked back European stock markets from peak levels reached earlier in the year, putting pressure on the ECB to unveil fresh measures to support growth.
Further signs of frailty in the euro zone’s economic bloc emerged on Thursday as data showed that German industrial orders rose by only 0.8 percent in September.
Around Europe on Thursday afternoon, Germany’s DAX index was up 1.3 percent, France’s CAC 40 up 1.2 percent, and Italy’s MIB up 1.4 percent.
Despite the broad rally, shares in Credit Agricole featured among the top losers, down 3.5 percent after the French lender posted a fall in revenues at home, blaming French government policy.
“The absence of a clear vision and lack of coherence in economic policies is weighing on confidence and therefore investment and economic activity,” Credit Agricole CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet told reporters on a conference call.
Shares in rival Societe Generale fell 0.9 percent after the bank posted earnings, with traders citing disappointing figures in French retail lending.
Electrical gearmaker Legrand slid 3.1 percent after reporting that sales growth and margin targets had become tough to reach in the weakening macroeconomic environment.
Swiss staffing company Adecco also fell, down 0.9 percent after warning that the pace of revenue growth had slowed, while German cement maker HeidelbergCement bucked the trend with a 5.1 percent uplift after posting a better than expected rise in core profit.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky