* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.5 pct
* Athens’ ATG rises 2 percent as banks rally after ECB test
* Commerzbank rallies as it returns to div, HSBC slips
* Electrolux down as U.S. rejects proposal on GE business (Recasts, adds detail and quote)
By Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni
LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - European shares had a positive start to the week after PMI figures from eurozone countries exceeded expectations, while Commerzbank’s better-than-expected results brightened a mixed picture for earnings season.
Traders also pointed to supportive comments from central bankers. In an interview over the weekend, ECB chief Mario Draghi said the central bank was ready to do what it takes to keep its medium-term inflation target on course.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2 percent, off opening lows touched after weak Chinese data sparked global growth concerns, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.5 percent.
“We’ve seen some strong German PMI figures which does breathe some optimism back into the market,” said Jonathan Roy, advisory investment manager at Charles Hanover Investments, adding that investors were being driven back into equities on the expectation of higher earnings and more liquidity.
Greek shares outperformed as investors welcomed the outcome of European Central Bank (ECB) stress tests on its four main banks.
Athens’ ATG index was up 2 percent, lifted by gains of nearly 30 percent in Alpha Bank and Eurobank , while Piraeus Bank rose 11 percent and the National Bank of Greece was up 7.5 percent.
The ECB assessment found that the four banks had a collective capital shortfall of 14.4 billion euros, less than the 25 billion euro maximum earmarked for bank recapitalisation as part of the country’s latest bailout programme.
“The Greek banking stress test results released over the weekend revealed that Greek banks are doing better than expected and consequently need less of a cash infusion than originally thought,” Peregrine & Black sales trader Markus Huber said.
Huber said overall sentiment in European stocks remained positive amid expectations of higher share prices by the end of the year.
Commerzbank rose 7.4 percent after the German bank said it would pay a dividend for the first time since 2007 as its recovery gains ground.
HSBC fell 0.9 percent in spite of a better-than-expected 32 percent rise in pretax profit for the third quarter thanks to reduced costs.
Electrolux dropped 6.4 percent after the U.S. Justice Department rejected the Swedish appliance maker’s offer to settle a fight over whether it would be allowed to buy General Electric’s appliance business.
French carmaker Renault rose 3 percent. According to data published on Sunday, French car registrations rose 1 percent in October, with Renault recovering some lost ground while rival PSA Peugeot Citroen saw a fall.
Today’s European research round-up (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Gareth Jones)