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Europe: Shares end higher helped by miners

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[MILAN] European equities bounced back from 13-month lows on Tuesday helped by mining and energy stocks as prices of major industrial metals and crude oil surged following the release of Chinese growth data. "As figures weaken in absolute terms, we can potentially see additional stimulus measures. That is helping investors'appetite for risk," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets in Brussels, said.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 1.4 per cent after slipping to a 13-month low in three straight sessions of losses.

The STOXX Europe 600 Basic Resources index, which houses major mining stocks, rose 1.5 per cent, while the European oil and gas index was up 1.1 per cent, tracking gains in prices of commodities such as oil, copper, nickel and aluminium.

Shares in Anglo American, Glencore, Rio Tinto and BP rose 1.5 to 5.1 per cent after economic data from China, the world's top metals consumer.

Growth in China's fourth-quarter gross domestic product eased, as expected, to 6.8 per cent from a year earlier, down from 6.9 per cent in the third quarter and marking the weakest pace of expansion since the first quarter of 2009. Full-year growth of 6.9 per cent was China's poorest in a quarter of a century.

Credit Agricole rose 2.5 per cent after the company confirmed a report that it was looking at the possibility of selling stakes in over three dozen regional banks, saying it would bolster its capital and help finance dividends.

Prudential rose 3.4 per cent after the British insurer posted a slightly above-forecast capital ratio under new European rules.

There were strong gains across all European equity sectors, but Danish enzyme maker Novozymes fell 8.5 per cent after trimming its longer-term sales forecasts.

Alstom fell 4.5 per cent with traders attributing the move to technical selling triggered by the company's 3.2 billion euro share buyback programme.

Italian banks fell 1.2 per cent after hitting a one-year low as investors fretted over their unresolved credit troubles following an ECB request for data on their bad loan portfolios.

Italian banks "remain very vulnerable to asset quality issues, especially in the absence of a clear and final solution to the problem of bad loans," said Italian broker ICBPI.

Portugal's Millennium BCP fell 9.9 per cent as developments in Italy fuelled concerns about the lender's loan portfolio.

REUTERS