LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - European shares pared gains in afternoon trading on Thursday after data showed U.S. housing starts rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000 units, just below market expectations for 600,000 units.
At 1235 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,008.39 points, against an intra-day high of 1,013.63.
Banks were among top gainers in Europe, with Standard Chartered (STAN.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Lloyds (LLOY.L), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) up 0.3-3.8 percent. (Reporting by Atul Prakash)

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