* FTSE and European stock markets advance
* Athens ATG equity index up after PM’s weekend comments
* Soitec slumps after cutting its earnings guidance
* Rebound in oil price boosts energy stocks
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Rising energy shares drove European equities higher on Monday, while Greece’s bourse also advanced after the country’s prime minister offered on Sunday to bring pro-European independents into the government.
However, French semiconductor engineering group Soitec lost more than half of its stock market value after it cut its earnings guidance.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index advanced by 0.9 percent, Germany’s DAX progressed by 0.6 percent, France’s CAC rose 1 percent while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index also climbed 0.7 percent.
Athens’ ATG equity index, which has fallen by more than 20 percent in 2014 on concerns about a disorderly exit by Greece from its international bailout, rose 1.9 percent - recovering from a 1.4 percent fall on Friday.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered on Sunday to bring pro-European independents into the government and hold new elections in late 2015 if lawmakers back him to elect a new president.
Although largely a ceremonial post, if the 300-member parliament does not choose a president by Dec. 29, elections will have to be held by early February, potentially putting bailout negotiations at risk.
Nevertheless, some traders expected Greece to avoid new elections.
“Greece should be able to resolve its issues,” said Securequity sales trader Jawaid Afsar.
Energy stocks also fared well.
The STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index rose 2.1 percent as Brent crude oil futures advanced by more than 2 percent toward $63 a barrel, continuing a recovery from a slump in the price over the last month.
Neste Oil rose 2.9 percent after raising its full-year profit guidance by about 37.5 percent.
Norwegian energy group Seadrill also rose by 6.3 percent while Royal Dutch Shell and BP advanced by 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
“There are clearly some bargains around in the energy sector after the recent relentless sell-off, so I would focus on that sector if I wanted to invest some cash into year-end,” said Hampstead Capital LLP hedge fund manager Lex van Dam.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Toby Chopra)