LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - European shares recouped most of their earlier losses to end flat near 4-1/2-year highs on Wednesday, after robust U.S. retail sales data pointed to a continued recovery in the world's biggest economy.
Analysts said that the broader stock market was poised to rise further in the coming days as the improving economic outlook could prompt more investors to park their money in equities at the expense of other asset classes.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally ended flat at 1,194.07 points, after hitting an intra-day low of 1,188.98. It recovered after data showed U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in February.
"The underlying sentiment is pretty bullish. People are neglecting several uncertainties and focusing on growth as hopes for a recovery in the global economy have improved. Equities are a better alternative to invest in in the current environment," said Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit (Milan: UCG.MI - news) in Munich.
"My preferred sectors in Europe are stable growth stocks like food and beverages, personal and household goods and healthcare."