M&A talk lifts European shares, euro dips to two-week low

Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:15am EDT
 
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By Marius Zaharia

LONDON (Reuters) - M&A talk in the pharmaceutical sector lifted European shares on Tuesday, but failed to support the euro, which dipped to a two-week low against the dollar as ECB policymakers renewed efforts to weaken it.

British newspaper the Sunday Times said U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had approached British rival AstraZeneca to propose a 60 billion pound ($101 billion) takeover. Both companies declined comment to Reuters.

Eli Lilly and Co said on Tuesday it would buy Novartis AG's animal health business for $5.4 billion in cash to strengthen and diversify its Elanco unit.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 1 percent at 1,342.38 points, building on last week's gains on the back of largely better-than-expected results by U.S. companies. U.S. stock futures suggested a higher open in New York as well.

"There's strong corporate activity which gives some energy to the market," said Hans Peterson, global head of asset allocation at SEB Investment Management.

The stronger European stock market failed to lift the euro, which dipped to a two-week low of $1.3783, although it remained close to its strongest levels this year.

European Central Bank executive board member Benoit Coeure said on Tuesday that the strength of the euro could be keeping inflation too low and that there was further margin to reduce the main interest rate below 0.25 percent.

The comments were the latest in a series of efforts by ECB policymakers, including President Mario Draghi, to talk down the euro currency as they try to fight ultra-low inflation and keep the currency union's economic recovery on track.   Continued...

 
A man smokes a cigarette outside The London Stock Exchange November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh