European shares edge up; Vodafone helps buoy market

LONDON, April 25 Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:18am EDT

LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher on Thursday to chalk up their fifth straight session of gains, helped by M&A speculation and expectations of more central bank action to support the economy.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up by 0.2 percent at 1,193.97 points, pushing the index back towards its 2013 high of 1,209.05 points hit in mid-March. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,695.76 points.

Telecoms group Vodafone rose 1.4 percent, after two people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Verizon had hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash-and-stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless.

Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities, added that expectations of an interest rate cut from the European Central Bank (ECB) were also supporting the region's stock markets.

"Plainly, the ECB is a help," he said.

"We'd be looking to buy pharmaceuticals and healthcare stocks, and selectively buy some telecoms," he added.

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