Adidas keeps European shares on track for best quarter in 4 years
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 flat
* FTSEurofirst on course for best quarterly gain since 2009
* Adidas up 1 pct after peer Nike posts strong sales
LONDON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - European shares were steady on Friday, with German sportswear maker Adidas gaining after strong results at U.S. peer Nike, but appetite was muted because of tension in U.S. budget talks and a political stand-off in Italy.
Shares in Adidas rose 1 percent after Nike said it recorded solid sales growth in North America and Europe last quarter, helping it report a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and brightening the outlook for the broader sports apparel sector .
The stock was among the top risers on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which was up 0.1 percent to 1,258.90 points, on course for its best quarterly gain since 2009. The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 index was flat at 2,923.39 points.
The FTSEurofirst 300 was unchanged on the week, hovering just below five-year high, as the lack of progress in budget and debt negotiations in Washington and the threat of a breakdown in the ruling coalition in Italy kept buyers on the sidelines.
The FTSEurofirst 300 has risen around 9.5 percent over the past three months, or 50 percent faster than the U.S. S&P 500 index, helped by improving data in Europe and the prospect of a tighter monetary policy in the United States.
Nick Xanders, head of strategy at BTIG, recommended that investors bet on further outperformance of European stocks over their U.S. counterparts in the coming months.
"With the situation going on in terms of the U.S. debt ceiling there is no reason to change that trade," said Xanders.
"You'd probably see another 3-4 percent (return on the trade until the end of the year) assuming Italy doesn't blow up."
Italy's FTSE MIB, down 0.4 percent, lagged its European peers after renewed threats from former premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party to pull out of the government.
Investors broadly expected U.S. lawmakers eventually to agree on an increase in the debt ceiling and avert a bailout, but markets were likely to be jittery as negotiations continued.
"History shows that these decisions tend to go right down to the wire, and typically the decisions are always in favour of the markets," said Central Markets chief strategist Richard Perry.
"However, the markets will remain on edge while the battle ... rumbles on, so expect markets to remain range bound until the decision."