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European shares hit a 7-week high

Tuesday, July 23 12:30:20

European shares rose to seven-week highs today as China's plan to support growth boosted mining shares and a flurry of deal activity sparked a rally in the telecoms sector.

Spanish banks also climbed, benefiting from rising risk appetite and they extended gains after demand for a short-term Spanish bond sale came in at the top end of forecasts and 10-year Spanish yields fell to five-week lows.

BBVA was up 3.8 percent and Banco Santander was 2.3 percent higher.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,213.78 points, a level not seen since early June.

The euro zone's Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.4 percent, at 2,736.29 points. The blue-chip index has surged 10 percent since late June, mirroring sharp gains on Wall Street, where the S and P 500 has hit record closing highs.

"The trend is pretty strong in the short term, and the index should test the 2,750-2,760 zone pretty soon. Beyond that, we'll be looking at the year's highs hit in late May," said Jose Antonio Gonzalez, chartist at EuroScreener, in Zaragoza, Spain.

Dutch telecoms group KPN was up 3.2 percent in volumes that were nearly four times the stock's daily average volume, after the firm said it would sell its E-Plus unit to Telefonica Deutschland for 5 billion euros in cash and a 17.6 percent stake in the merged company.

French construction-to-telecom conglomerate Bouygues surged 6.4 percent in twice its average daily volume and SFR parent Vivendi added 3.3 percent after the firms said they had entered talks to share part of their mobile networks.

Vivendi shares were also boosted by news that the group is in exclusive talks to sell its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom to Dubai-based Etisalat in one of the biggest emerging market deals this year.

Miners also helped fuel the market's gains on Tuesday, after media reports from China that said the government would use railway projects to help cut gluts in steel, cement and other construction materials, and would not let economic growth drop below 7 percent. (Reuters)