* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct after 16 pct gain in Q1
* Chinese data shows weakness in economy
* Greek back at forefront of investors’ minds
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, April 1 (Reuters) - European shares reversed early losses and inched higher on Wednesday, starting the new quarter on a positive note, with Barry Callebaut surging 6.9 percent after posting strong results.
Shares in Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut surged 8 percent after it reported higher half-year sales and profits, as cost cuts helped counter the impact of the surging Swiss franc. It also confirmed its mid-term targets subject to currency swings.
Neopost dropped 6.7 percent after posting disappointing results.
At 0735 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,587.81 points. The benchmark index surged 16 percent in the first quarter.
“The overall trend is still positive, there aren’t any signals of an imminent sell-off. The idea is still to buy the dips,” said Jean-Louis Cussac, head of Perceval Finance.
The market initially fell in the first minutes of trading, with investors rattled by surveys of China’s factory and services sectors showing stubborn weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy in March.
Investors awaited a batch of manufacturing data from the euro zone, which could shed light on the region’s economic outlook following the start of the European Central Bank’s massive asset-buying scheme.
Traders also mentioned renewed worries over Greece, as the country failed on Tuesday to reach an initial deal with the European Union and the IMF to unlock aid after the creditors dismissed a package of reforms from Athens as ideas rather than a concrete plan.
Athens’s ATG index was down 0.1 percent in early trade on Wednesday.
European shares slipped on Tuesday after their recent sharp rally but retained big gains for the quarter, with Germany’s DAX posting its strongest first-quarter performance since its creation in 1988.
The DAX surged 22 percent in the last three months, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares climbed 16 percent, as investors bet the drop in the euro will spark a recovery in the region’s economic growth and corporate profits.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up