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Europe: Shares rise, spurred on by healthcare stocks

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[BENGALURU] European shares recovered from early losses to end Monday higher as gains in healthcare stocks helped head off weakness in trade-sensitive sectors like technology after the latest twist in the US-China trade war.

China will reportedly investigate whether FedEx Corp damaged its clients' legal rights and interests after telecoms giant Huawei said parcels intended for it were diverted.

"Tensions between the US and China, and the US and Mexico, are still high - the highest they have been recently, so today's move might turn out to be a relief rally," David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note.

"It has been an impressive turnaround seeing as the major indices were offside this morning, and traders seem to have shrugged off the negative sentiment."

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.4 per cent, coming off a 3-1/2-month low hit earlier in the day.

Germany's DAX rose 0.6 per cent, shaking off pressure from a 8.1 per cent slide in Infineon's shares after the chipmaker agreed to buy Cypress Semiconductor for US$10 billion.

Payments firm Wirecard rose 3.6 per cent following a tweet by chief executive Markus Braun on Sunday saying the company was "steering towards an outstanding first half year of 2019".

Merck KGaA was a source of optimism to both Germany's DAX and the Stoxx 600, rising 2.1 per cent. It reported Phase II results for an investigational therapy.

Lonza Group gained 3.9 per cent on announcing it will carve out its specialty ingredients business and cut around 130 jobs there as it reorganises the struggling division.

Healthcare stocks, up 1.4 per cent on the day, dipped during May but greatly outperformed the Stoxx 600 over the course of a month which saw investors scurrying toward safe havens as no end to the US-China trade war appeared in sight.

The tech sector - relatively exposed to worsening global trade ties - slipped 0.3 per cent on Monday, with Infineon's chipmaking peer ASM International declining 0.7 per cent.

"We can see the industrial logic...but there are bigger issues at play which could kibosh the deal. The last time Infineon attempted to acquire US assets the deal was terminated, citing security concerns raised by the US government back in 2017," Neil Campling, Mirabaud's head of TMT Research, wrote in a note on the Infineon deal.

Financial services stocks fell 0.7 per cent, with Bolsas y Mercados Espanoles SHMSF SA leading the losses with a slide of 3.8 per cent.

The Spanish exchange operator reported a 22.3 per cent year-on-year drop in trading volumes for the month of May.

Travel and leisure stocks fell 0.6 per cent, weighed on by a 4.4 per cent decline in TUI as the travel firm's contingency measures to cope with the grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets were triggered.

Banks dipped 0.5 per cent, with Natixis sliding 4 per cent. Credit Suisse cut its target price on the French lender's stock to 4.90 euros per share from 5.70 euros per share.