Banks, automakers fuel strong comeback for European shares



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* Bank shares rise for second day

* ECB set to meet on Thursday

* Adidas jumps on upbeat China sales view

* DAX rises 7.9%, CAC 40 up 7.1%

By Sruthi Shankar, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Susan Mathew

March 9 (Reuters) - German shares vaulted almost 8% to lead strong gains across European stocks markets on Wednesday, as investors picked up beaten-down stocks following a rout sparked by fears about the fallout from the Ukraine crisis.

Italian .FTMIB and French .FCHI shares jumped around 7% each, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rallied 4.7% for its best session in two years.

The STOXX 600 broke a four-day losing streak during which it lost about 7%, hit by the threat of a Russian oil imports ban. On Tuesday, German and Italian shares closed 20% below their recent highs - a decline investors call a "bear market".

Hard-hit banks .SX7P , automakers .SXAP and travel and leisure .SXTP stocks rose more than 7% each.

News that Russia and Ukraine expressed willingness to talk helped sentiment and boosted recovery in stocks globally.

"The fact that Western governments seem to be carrying out an economic war against Russia, rather than military conflict, has helped the overall sentiment," said David Madden, market analyst at Equiti Capital.

The German DAX .GDAXI , which has suffered the most among regional indexes due to the companies' exposure to Russian energy supplies, marked its biggest percentage gain since March 2020.

"DAX is up as a mixture of bargain hunting and short covering," added Madden.

Euro zone banks .SX7E rallied almost 10%, but still remain down 13% for the year amid uncertainty about the European Central Bank's policy tightening plans as well as an economic hit from the Ukraine crisis.

The ECB is set to meet on Thursday, with chief Christine Lagarde likely to prove that a lid can be kept on euro-area inflation, which has already leapt to a bigger-than-expected 5.8% - the highest figure in the bloc's two decades.

On Tuesday, stock markets fell in volatile trade and oil prices jumped to $127 per barrel after the United States and Britain moved to ban Russian oil imports, raising fears of global stagflation. Oil prices retreated on Wednesday. {O/R}

Britain's commodity-heavy FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 3.2%, the least among European peers as energy .SXEP and mining stocks .SXPP fell after a strong rally.

Adidas ADSGn.DE jumped 13.6% after the German sportswear company said it was expecting a sales recovery in its China business but warned of a hit of up to 250 million euros ($273.10 million) from halting business in Russia.

German logistics company Deutsche Post DPWGn.DE climbed 12.5% after reporting a 65% increase in 2021 operating profit.

Lenders UniCredit CRDI.MI and BNP Paribas BNPP.PA climbed around 10% each, helped by a broad-based rally, as the banks unveiled their exposure to Russia.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V, Anil D'Silva and Alex Richardson

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