* STOXX 600 end up 0.7 pct, touch 15-mth high
* Lufthansa touches one-year high after results
* Fed rate hike boosts miners, banks
* Anglo American tops STOXX after billionaire buys stake
* Renault drops as CEO targeted in diesel probe
(Adds closing prices)
By Helen Reid
LONDON, March 16 European shares hit their
highest level in 15 months on Thursday after the Federal Reserve
signalled no pick-up in the pace of monetary tightening and
centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte won elections in the
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended up 0.7
percent at 377.73, after touching 377.76, its highest level
since December 2015.
Amsterdam's AEX index hit its highest level in more
than nine years, also rising 0.6 percent, while both Germany's
DAX and France's CAC 40 hit their highest
levels since mid-2015.
Dutch PM Rutte fought off the challenge of anti-Islam and
anti-EU rival Geert Wilders to score an election victory that
was hailed across Europe by governments facing a rising wave of
But Arne Petimezas, analyst at AFS Group in Amsterdam, said
Dutch markets were already outperforming on Wednesday, and
rising shares were mainly driven by the Fed's dovish tone.
The Fed raised rates for the second time in three months on
Wednesday as expected but did not flag any plan to accelerate
its outlook for monetary tightening.
Basic resource stocks were boosted by a sharp fall in the
dollar against major currencies on Wednesday in reaction to the
Fed's rate outlook.
Anglo American was the top European gainer, up 8.6
percent, after Indian billionaire and Vedanta Resources
majority shareholder Anil Agarwal said he would buy a stake of
up to 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in the miner. That would
make his Volcan Trust the second-biggest shareholder after South
Africa's Public Investment Corp.
Anglo led Europe's basic resource stocks higher, the
top sectoral gainers, up 3.3 percent.
Antofagasta, Fresnillo, BHP Billiton
and Randgold Resources were up 2 to 4.7 percent.
The Fed's rate hike lifted banking stocks, which
gained 1 percent, with Italian and Spanish lenders including
BPER Banca and Santander leading the bounce.
Earnings reports also boosted some companies' stocks.
Lufthansa gained 5.2 percent after its results.
The German airline reported an improved net debt position and
set a brighter outlook, saying it expected profits to fall only
slightly despite lower fares and a rising fuel bill.
Italian insurer Generali rose 2.6 percent as it
pledged a higher dividend after reporting its best profit in
"The beat looks to be good quality and is well spread by
division, with life up 18 percent y/y and non-life up 13 percent
y/y," said UBS analysts.
Generali said it was confident in a future as an independent
company, after Italy's largest bank Intesa Sanpaolo scrapped its
bid to take over the insurer.
Renault was a top faller, down 3.4 percent after
the French carmaker's CEO Carlos Ghosn was targeted in a French
diesel cheating probe.
($1 = 0.8086 pounds)
(Reporting by Helen Reid; additional reporting by Danilo
Masoni; Editing by Vikram Subhedar and Susan Fenton)