European Shares Bounce Higher


European shares were little changed in choppy trade on Friday, as regional leaders agreed to work towards a new "fiscal compact" but made little firm progress in their efforts to stem the euro zone debt crisis at a crucial summit.

At 1025 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 975.73 points. The index is down 13.2 percent in 2011, even after rising 8.5 percent last week on hopes the summit would find solutions.

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EU leaders agreed stricter budget rules for the euro zone, but failed to secure changes to the EU treaty among all 27 member states, meaning a deal will instead have to involve just euro zone states and any others that want to join.

"It doesn't actually take us much further. I'm not sure we've made much progress in terms of the underlying issues," said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management. "If you've made some profit on equities, it may be time to realise that profit."

Banks, like other sectors, moved in and out of positive territory. The STOXX Europe 600 Banking Index rose 0.1 percent, but is down 32.7 percent in 2011.

The sector largely shrugged off an announcement by Europe's banking watchdog that Europe's banks must find 114.7 billion euros of extra capital, more than predicted two months ago, to make them strong enough to withstand the euro zone debt crisis and restore investor confidence.

Richard Batty, strategist at Standard Life Investments, part of the Standard Life Group, which administers 196.8 billion pounds of assets, noted the European Central Bank's "change of tack when it came to liquidity provisions for the banks".

He said: "Banks can tap the ECB for cheap funding, which is helpful."

He said this contrasted with the ECB's stance on sovereign debt. "The ECB is not really going to aggressively increase their support from the sovereigns, which investors had been looking for the ECB to do."

However, traders pointed to some bond buying by the ECB on Friday morning, which helped shorter-dated Italian government bond yields fall from earlier highs.


The EU summit concludes on Friday and some strategists said more detail would have to come out before it was clear how helpful it would be for investor sentiment.

"Certainly some positive things have come out of the summit. The 17 single currency nations have come together and agreed some key terms for a new treaty to form a fiscal union. If these measures get integrated efficiently and in a credible fashion, then it would help to prevent the crisis that we have seen today from happening in the future." said Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist, City Index.

Among individual companies, GlaxoSmithKline fell 1.2 percent after its Tykerb drug failed to hit its goal in a clinical trial testing its role in women with early breast cancer, dimming hopes for its use in this setting.

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