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Takeover activity keeps European shares steady
May 2, 2014 / 8:12 AM / 3 years ago

Takeover activity keeps European shares steady

* Dt Telekom rises on T-Mobile US bid speculation

* Backdrop of M&A activity keeps European shares steady

* U.S jobs data eyed at 1230 GMT

* FTSEurofirst 300 edges down 0.1 pct

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - New signs of corporate takeover activity kept European stock markets steady on Friday, although many investors were reluctant to add big positions before U.S. jobs data later in the day.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which last month hit its highest level since June 2008, was off just 0.1 percent at 1,352.88 points in early session trading.

The euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index dipped 0.3 percent to 3,188.48 points. Both the FTSEurofirst 300 and the Euro STOXX 50 are still up by more than 2 percent since the start of 2014.

Equity markets have drifted higher over the last week as signs of blockbuster merger and acquisition (M&A) deals have propped up the stock markets.

On Friday, Deutsche Telekom rose 1.9 percent, after Reuters reported that U.S. rival Sprint had met with banks ahead of a planned bid for T-Mobile US, which is 67 percent owned by Deutsche Telekom.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer also raised its offer for UK rival AstraZeneca to 63 billion pounds ($106.44 billion) on Friday, while French company Alstom faces takeover interest from General Electric and Siemens.

AstraZeneca shares edged down by 0.4 percent to 47.94 pounds on Friday - slightly below Pfizer’s 50 pounds-per-share indicative offer for the company. AstraZeneca’s share price has surged by around 27 percent since news of Pfizer’s bid interest first emerged in late April.

“There’s a little bit of friction ahead of the U.S. jobs data, but the newsflow on the M&A front is helping support markets,” said Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu.

U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due to be published at 1230 GMT, will give an indication of the health of the world’s biggest economy and the outlook for the global economy.

A Reuters survey forecast that non-farm payrolls probably increased by 210,000 jobs this month, up from a 192,000 gain in March.

“Non-farm payrolls should come in line with expectations. I don’t see equities coming off by much until I see a big move in interest rates,” said Valahu.

UBS equity strategists, meanwhile, backed staying “overweight” on banking stocks, capital goods companies, media stocks and technology hardware shares in order to best capture a recovery in European equity markets.

($1 = 0.5919 British Pounds)

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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