European shares closed at their highest in more than four months.Banks were boosted by the hopes that the sector is getting ready to rid itself of government support as it emerged that some US banks are planning to repay Washington’s bailout money. In addition the British government is reported to have held talks with investors to gauge their interest in buying its stakes in part-nationalised lenders. Other influences on investors were a fall – to a record low – in new housing starts and applications for building permits in the US but a bigger-than-forecast increase in German investor confidence. Higher metals prices pushed up mining companies. UK retailer Marks & Spencer’s shares slumped eight percent as it cut its dividend on a 38 percent fall in full-year profit.