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Europe: Shares inch up near 4-week highs helped by banks

[MILAN] European shares rose near 4-week highs on Monday following gains in Asian markets overnight and helped by strength among financial and industrial stocks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index inched up 0.2 per cent by 0812 GMT, with banks leading sectoral gainers up 0.6 per cent, following a deal last week on new global banking regulations.

The STOXX 600 has recovered part of the losses suffered in November but remains 2 per cent below the two-year highs hit at the start of last month.

Top gainers on the STOXX were Steinhoff, which rose 13 per cent to break three sessions of dramatic losses stemming from its discovery of accounting irregularities, and Italian defence contractor Leonardo, up 3 per cent following an upbeat note from Goldman Sachs.

Elsewhere, Bayer shares were 0.7 per cent higher, brushing off a report that EU antitrust regulators are expected to warn the group in the coming weeks that its planned takeover of US seed maker Monsanto may hurt competition.

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