* FTSEurofirst 300 rises but still down since start of 2016
* Lloyds and AXA rise after results
* But Zodiac slumps after profit warning
* Citi stays overweight on continental Europe shares
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
Feb 25 () - European shares rebounded on Thursday from losses earlier in the week, as solid corporate results from the likes of French insurer AXA and British bank Lloyds lifted stock markets.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had fallen around 4 percent in the previous two sessions, rose 1.3 percent.
The FTSEurofirst nevertheless remains down by around 10 percent since the start of 2016, with concerns about a slowing global economy having hit world stock markets and commodity prices this year.
However, Hampstead Capital hedge fund manager Lex Van Dam said equities remained his preferred asset class, given hits to returns on bonds and cash from negative interest rates set by the likes of the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank (ECB).
“With real rates going negative around the world, equities remain the asset class of choice,” he said.
Lloyds surged 9.1 percent after announcing a special dividend payment and higher profits, while shares in the rig company Seadrill advanced 6.7 percent as investors welcomed a refinancing plan.
AXA also progressed 2.2 percent after posting higher profits, and gains in top banking and insurance stocks added the most points to European stock markets.
However, Zodiac Aerospace slumped 20 percent after announcing a profit warning.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 53 percent of companies on the European STOXX 600 index have met or beaten market expectations with their fourth quarter results.
U.S. investment bank Citigroup cut its 2016 global economic growth forecast but kept an “overweight” position on European shares excluding the UK, as it felt the UK market would be impacted by uncertainty around Britain’s ‘Brexit’ vote in June on whether or not to stay in the European Union.
“We remain ‘overweight’ Europe excluding the UK, where equities look especially attractive relative to bonds, and ‘underweight’ UK where Brexit fears are likely to be a drag,” Citigroup wrote in a note.
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Kevin Liffey)