December 17, 2014 / 5:56 PM / 3 years ago

Rebound in energy stocks and ECB aid prospect lifts European shares

* FTSEurofirst 300 ends up 0.1 pct at 1,316.76 points

* Russia concerns cause DAX to underperform

* Hard-hit Greek bourse up as new political vote looms

* ECB's Coeure makes new hints of fresh stimulus action

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - European equities staged a late recovery on Wednesday, as a rebound in energy stocks and new signs of economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank lifted shares.

Brent crude, which is still down nearly 50 percent in six months, moved above $60 a barrel on Wednesday as U.S. data showed falling crude inventories.

The oil price recovery lifted the STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index by 3.3 percent.

"If you're prepared to hold your nerve, oil assets look like a good buy at the moment," said Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu.

Energy stocks added the most points to the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had spent much of the day mired in negative territory due to concerns over financial turmoil in Russia but closed up 0.1 percent at 1,316.76 points.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also shrugged off earlier losses to end up 0.1 percent.

The hard-hit Greek market also bounced ahead of a tight parliamentary vote that will trigger elections unless the Greek prime minister can win backing from independents and smaller parties that have so far rejected helping his coalition.

RUSSIAN AND GREEK CONCERNS

Germany's DAX equity index missed out on the market rebound and fell 0.2 percent.

The DAX has many companies that export to Russia, where the rouble has come under heavy selling pressure this week despite an interest rate hike by the central bank.

This week's slump in the rouble, which rebounded on Wednesday, has revived memories of its 1998 collapse which sparked a sell-off in European equities. The DAX plunged nearly 40 percent in 2-1/2 months during the 1998 crisis.

Some traders said the volatility caused by Russia would add even more pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to undertake new economic stimulus measures.

Senior ECB policymaker Benoit Coeure said he saw a broad consensus on the bank's Governing Council for more action, with buying government bonds "the baseline option."

Traders added that European policymakers would also look to contain fallout from political uncertainty in Greece, whose main ATG equity index rose 3.3 percent.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed to secure a majority on Wednesday in the first of three rounds of a presidential vote that will determine whether the country is forced into snap national elections and a new period of political chaos.

Failure to elect a president with a three-fifths majority in parliament triggers early elections, which polls show would probably be won by the radical leftist Syriza party that promises to axe the bailout scheme Greece uses to keep afloat.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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