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Markets Score Best Monthly Gain in 4.5 Years

European shares rose on Wednesday, boosted by better U.S. economic data and a raft of bullish company updates, to register their best monthly performance in 4-1/2 years ahead of a key U.S. rate decision.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed up 0.7 percent at an unofficial 1,337.35 points, having risen in five out of the last six sessions.

The index rose 6 percent in April, making it its best monthly performance since October 2003.

"In the medium-term, I think rallies are sustainable because equities are decent value for the economic outlook which I've got, which is a troublesome three to six months from now, but we'll come through in the end, and by 2009 economies should be getting better," said Andrew Bell, a European equity strategist at Rensburg Sheppards Investment Management.

German engineer Siemens was among the top positive influences on the broader market, rising nearly 3 percent after Chief Executive Peter Loescher said he was guardedly optimistic about the second half of 2008.