* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 percent at 1,103.43 points
* Euro STOXX 50 rises 0.8 pct to 2,497.74 points
* Siemens and Swiss Re rise after results
* Fall in German exports underlines weak economic backdrop
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Nov 8 Reassuring earnings from major
companies including Siemens helped European stock
markets rebound on Thursday, although gains were seen limited by
fresh signs that the region's economy remains weak.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up by 0.4 percent at
1,103.43 points in morning trade, recovering from a 1.4 percent
fall during the previous session.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
advanced by 0.8 percent to 2,497.74 points.
Engineering conglomerate Siemens rose by 4.3 percent to add
the most points to the FTSEurofirst 300, after it reported a
smaller-than-expected fall in profits and unveiled planned cost
savings of 6 billion euros ($7.7 billion).
However, Cyrille Urfer - who heads up asset allocation at
Swiss bank Gonet - said further gains from now until the end of
2012 on European equity markets would be "muted" due to the weak
underlying economic backdrop.
Europe's economic problems were highlighted again on
Thursday by data showing that German exports had fallen at their
fastest pace since December 2011.
"We are hoping to get some more additional movement up by
the end of the year, but I think the rally will be a muted one.
I see a three-to-five percent movement higher at best, from
current levels," said Urfer.
EARNINGS REASSURE DESPITE LOWER PROFITS
Urfer's asset allocation is currently evenly split between
European and U.S. equities, with American stock markets facing
their own worries over the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of about $600
billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that could take effect in
Although the FTSEurofirst 300 index has slipped back from a
2012 peak of 1,122.76 points in mid-September, it remains up by
some 8 percent since late July.
This was when equity markets rallied after European Central
Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi pledged to do "whatever it takes"
to protect the euro from Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
Reassuring third-quarter results have also supported
European equities over the last month.
According to Thomson Reuters Starmine data, 58 percent of
the companies on the STOXX 600 European index to have
reported third-quarter results have beaten or met market
forecasts, with 42 percent missing forecasts.
Reinsurer Swiss Re also beat market forecasts
with its third-quarter results on Thursday, and the company
further encouraged investors with the promise of a special
"We really like Swiss Re and its promise of the special
dividend. After such a sharp sell-off in the previous session,
the bargain-hunters are coming back in," said MB Capital trading
director Marcus Bullus.
However, Gekko Global Markets sales trader Anita Paluch
cautioned that the economic backdrop remained gloomy, with Spain
still under pressure to accept a sovereign bailout while Greece
is struggling to meet the terms of its own rescue deal.
"We are having a reality check right now," she said.