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European shares extend rally on Chinese growth data

PARIS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - European stocks rose in early trade on Friday, gaining ground for the seventh straight session, boosted by data showing an acceleration in China's economic growth.

The world's second biggest economy grew 7.8 percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace this year, as rising foreign and domestic demand lifted factory production and retail sales.

At 0705 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.4 percent at 1,272.98 points.

The FTSEurofirst 300 has gained 3.6 percent in the past six sessions, as investors bet on a last-minute deal in Washington to avert a debt default, which was reached earlier in the week.

Sentiment in equities was also buoyed by Thursday's record close for the S&P 500, which followed the Washington agreement.

"Now that the crisis is over in the United States, investors are back in the market, and the fear of missing the rally is becoming stronger than the fear of a market correction, so this rally has still legs," a Paris-based trader said.

"Heading into the earnings session, however, it's a market for stock pickers because we've already had quite a few warnings from blue chips."

Shares in property group Gecina featured among the top losers, down 3.3 percent, after Spain's Grupo Prasa placed a 1.3 percent stake in the company, according to traders.