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Europe: M&A livens up European equity trading, Stoxx ends on a weekly loss


[LONDON] European shares rose on Friday, led by NEX Group as it jumped after a takeover offer, but stocks ended the week with a slight loss as worries about a trade war and geopolitical tensions kept investors on edge.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.24 per cent at 377.79 points and lost 0.1 per cent on the week.

Germany's DAX index rose 0.4 per cent following a delayed open which was the first day of trading for Siemens Healthineers, which gained just over 8 per cent.

Worries about a possible trade war have hung over equities since US President Donald Trump announced this month that he would introduce tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, while a shakeup of the president's cabinet has also dampened the mood.

Market voices on:

"We have become a little bit more tepid on European stocks as the year progresses," Gautam Batra, head of investments at Mediolanum Asset Management, said.

"We felt valuations carried weight in favour of Europe but the sector make-up doesn't look that great and the news on the trade front isn't supportive for Europe either," Mr Batra added.

Deal-making added some spice to trading, with exchange operator NEX Group soaring 30.3 per cent to the top of the Stoxx following a preliminary takeover offer from US-based peer CME Group.

"There has been an element of companies holding back over the last couple of years until the economic recovery got established," Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said.

"In this hyper-low interest rate environment, there are only so many things that companies can do with... the excess cash they are generating and a lot of them have done share buybacks or increased their dividend and more lately we're now seeing a spike in M&A activity," Mr Hunter added.

Telecoms group Altice rose 3.4 per cent following its results, with the debt-ridden group saying it sees signs of a recovery in the competitive French market.

French oil storage and distribution company Rubis was another top gainer, up 6.6 per cent at a record high after reporting full-year results and upping its dividend.

However, shares in UK housebuilder Berkeley Group fell 5.3 per cent after the company said it could not boost building volumes beyond current plans.