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European shares edge up, hit highest since late January

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - European shares edged up in early trading on Monday, with one index touching its highest level in around two weeks following overnight gains in Asia.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up by 0.2 percent at 1,334.32 points, at its highest level since late January, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index advanced 0.1 percent.

Italy's FTSE MIB equity index, which outperformed with a 1.6 percent gain on Friday as investors welcomed the likelihood of centre-left leader Matteo Renzi becoming prime minister, rose 0.2 percent.

Traders attributed Monday's move higher to European equity markets tracking overnight gains in Asia, slowly recovering from declines at the start of the year caused by a slump in emerging market economies.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell in January but has since clawed back ground and is up 1.5 percent since the start of 2014.

"The market is continuing its recovery," said Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths.

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