European stock markets halt sell-off as earnings reassure

PARIS (Reuters) - European shares rose in early trading on Thursday, taking a breather following the previous session's steepest sell-off since 2011, helped by a raft of reassuring corporate results.

Shares in Swiss drugmaker Roche rose 1.7 per cent after it reaffirmed its full-year sales and profit targets as a strong performance by its new breast cancer drugs helped it beat expectations in the third quarter.

French spirits group Remy Cointreau surged 5 per cent after it confirmed its full-year targets for organic growth.

Shire bucked the trend, down 11.5 per cent and plummeting for a second day, after U.S. pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc recommended that shareholders vote against its US$55 billion takeover of Shire in the wake of a U.S. government move to curb deals designed to cut high taxes. Shares in Shire tumbled 23 per cent on Wednesday after AbbVie said it was reconsidering its bid.

At 0709 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.9 per cent at 1,263.51 points, after plunging 3.2 per cent in the previous session, hurt by mounting worries over the strength of the global economy.