* STOXX 600 up 0.7 pct to 15-mth high
* Lufthansa touches one-year high after results
* Fed rate hike boosts miners, banks
* Anglo American tops STOXX after billionaire buys stake
* Renault drops as CEO targeted in diesel probe
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By Helen Reid
LONDON, March 16 European shares hit their
highest level in 15 months on Thursday, with basic resource and
banking stocks rising after the U.S. Fed raised rates and
centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte won elections in the
The pan-European STOXX 600 index hit its highest
level since December 2015, last up 0.6 percent.
Amsterdam's AEX index hit its highest level in more
than nine years, up 0.7 percent, while both Germany's DAX
and France's CAC 40 hit their highest levels
Dutch PM Rutte fought off the challenge of anti-Islam and
anti-EU rival Geert Wilders to score an election victory that
was hailed across Europe by governments facing a rising wave of
But Arne Petimezas, analyst at AFS Group in Amsterdam, said
Dutch markets were already out-performing on Wednesday, and
rising shares were mainly driven by the Fed's dovish tone.
"The rate hike that the US Federal Reserve administered
yesterday has been the more dominant factor in financial
markets, lifting both bonds and stocks," said Lukas Daalder,
chief investment officer at Robeco Investment Solutions.
Basic resource stocks were boosted by the sharp fall of the
dollar against major currencies on Wednesday on the Fed's more
gradual pace of monetary tightening.
Anglo American was the top European gainer after
Indian billionaire and Vedanta Resources majority
shareholder Anil Agarwal said he would buy a stake of up to 2
billion pounds in the miner, making his Volcan Trust the
second-biggest shareholder after South Africa's Public
Anglo led Europe's basic resource stocks higher, the
top sectoral gainers, up 3.5 percent.
Antofagasta, Fresnillo, BHP Billiton
and Randgold Resources were up 5.7 to 6.7
The Fed's rate hike also raised banking stocks,
which gained 1.3 percent, with Banco Santander the best
Results also boosted some companies' stocks.
Lufthansa gained 5.1 percent after its results.
The German airline posted an improved net debt position and set
a brighter outlook, saying it expected profits to fall only
slightly despite lower fares and a rising fuel bill.
Italian insurer Generali rose 3 percent after it
pledged a higher dividend after posting its best profit in nine
"The beat looks to be good quality and is well spread by
division with life up 18 percent y/y and non-life up 13 percent
y/y," said UBS analysts.
Generali said it was confident in a future as an independent
company, after Italy's largest bank Intesa Sanpaolo scrapped its
bid to take over the insurer.
Renault was the top faller, down 3.8 percent after
the French carmaker's CEO Carlos Ghosn was targeted in a French
diesel cheating probe.
(Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Vikram Subhedar)