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Trade talk hopes drive European shares up as miners and autos shine

By Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX board is pictured at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

By Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - A rally in European shares extended for a second day on Wednesday thanks to gains in trade-sensitive mining and autos stocks as investors saw a China-U.S. trade war approaching its endgame.

The STOXX 600 <.STOXX> and leading euro zone stocks <.STOXX50E> both rose 0.3 percent to two-week highs with sentiment buoyed by hopes that the United States and China will return to the negotiating table after the latest tariff round.

Washington and Beijing both announced fresh tariffs on reciprocal imports this week, though the measures were less severe than initially expected, bolstering hopes of a deal.

"Our base-case scenario sees both parties negotiating a settlement in the next 6–9 months," Credit Suisse strategists said in their daily note to clients.

Caution however remained, with some investors still wary that U.S. President Donald Trump could seek to extend tariffs to all Chinese imports.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said his country would not engage in competitive currency devaluation and would not weaken the yuan to boost exports.

Basic materials <.SXPP> were the biggest sectoral gainer, up 3.1 percent, after copper prices rose sharply as investors shrugged off the risks of an escalation of the U.S.-China trade row.

It was the sector's best day in two months.

Heavyweight miners Antofagasta <ANTO.L> and Anglo American <AAL.L> rose 5.9 percent and 5.1 percent respectively.

Financials also provided support, although Danske Bank <DABA.CO> fell 3.4 percent following the resignation of its CEO and an updated on a money laundering probe that prompted the bank to cut its full-year outlook.


MERGER

Progress in the planned merger between Linde and Praxair drove shares in the German industrial gases group <LIN1.DE> up 7.8 percent, a top STOXX gainer.

A source said Linde was set to sell additional assets to a consortium of Messer Group GmbH and CVC Capital Partners for about $200 million, moving closer to U.S. antitrust approval for the deal.

Belgian biopharma firm Argenx <ARGX.BR> sank 11.8 percent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after a share offering.

Argenx offered 3.5 million American Depositary Shares at a 0.9 percent discount to Tuesday's close, for a gross raise of $300 million.

Elsewhere earnings updates drove share price moves.

Adecco fell 6.2 percent after the world's largest staffing firm said it has seen a slowdown in growth so far in the third quarter. Its fall also weighed Dutch peer Randstad <RAND.AS> down 5.1 percent.

RBC Capital said Adecco's slowdown was bad news but added that the stock's valuation was cheap and that the company's end markets remained relatively robust.

Kingfisher reported a 15 percent fall in half-year profits, sending its shares down 6.3 percent.

A solid update however lifted German automotive parts maker Schaeffler <SHA_p.DE> up 3 percent. The company kept its guidance for overall sales this year thanks to stronger orders at its industrial division.

Its gains helped the autos sector <.SXAP>, which has been penalised this year by growing trade concerns, rise 1.5 percent.


(Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid, Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)