PARIS, March 14 European shares rose early on Thursday, with a major index hitting a near five-year high, buoyed by gains for insurer Generali and potash and salt miner K+S after results.
At 0805 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.4 percent at 1,198.38 points, surpassing an intraday high of 1,197.73 points reached last Friday, a level not seen since September 2008.
Generali rallied 5.4 percent after the group posted forecast-beating operating results, while K+S rose 3.6 percent after it gave a positive outlook.
In addition to the corporate news, the broader market remained supported by recent positive U.S. data, which has proved a counterweight to the persistently sluggish euro zone economy.
"Everybody knows already that the euro zone is in a bad shape," Christian Jimenez, fund manager and president of Diamant Bleu Gestion, said. "So at this point we can't exclude positive surprises, such a boost from the U.S. and emerging economies."