* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.7 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.8 pct
* Auto shares get boost from positive Exane sector note
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, July 1 (Reuters) - European shares bounced back on Wednesday after sharp declines in the previous two sessions, with some investors clinging to hopes of progress in Greece even after it became the first advanced economy to default on a loan with the IMF.
European finance ministers will confer on Wednesday over Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ request for a new two-year loan to pay debts that amount to nearly 30 billion euros ($33.4 billion). French Finance Minister Michel Sapin also said France would still try to reach a goal with Greece before the Sunday referendum.
“There is hope that there could still be some talks over the next couple of days and things do not lead to a complete standstill, but the chances of a deal ahead of the weekend are certainly dim,” Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at Baader Bank in Munich.
“We will see some nervousness depending on the expectations regarding the outcome of the referendum.”
The fate of Greece’s membership in the 19-nation currency bloc hangs in the balance ahead of the referendum on Sunday when Greek citizens will vote on whether to accept the austerity terms of continued international aid. The International Monetary Fund confirmed that Greece had not made a scheduled 1.6 billion euro loan repayment.
The euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 rose 0.8 percent after falling 1.3 percent in the previous session and slumping more than 4 percent on Monday. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.7 percent by 0806 GMT.
Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX both were up 0.7 percent. France’s CAC rose 0.8 percent, also helped by a survey showing France’s manufacturing sector grew in June for the first time since April 2014.
Carmakers topped the gainers’ list in Europe, with the STOXX Europe 600 Automobile and Auto Parts index rising 1.7 percent. It was supported by a positive sector note from Exane, which upgraded its stance or raised the price target for Peugeot , Renault, Daimler, Continental , Porsche and Volkswagen.
“Our deep dive into replacement, ownership and demographic trends reveals powerful cyclical support that trumps longer-term structural concerns. Our analysis of labour and capacity trends suggests profitability can also surprise as productivity and utilisation rates rise sharply,” Exane analysts said in a note.
Airbus shares rose 2 percent after China placed an order for dozens of wide-body jets from Airbus in a multi-billion-dollar deal that paves the way for a second European aircraft plant in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.
($1 = 0.8984 euros)
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Keith Weir)