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Europe: Shares take a breather near two-year highs

[LONDON] European shares ended the day in positive territory on Monday after a session in which promising euro zone economic data and rising oil prices failed to offset some earnings and corporate news disappointment.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose a little more than 0.1 per cent to 396.59 points, within range of two-year highs.

"After the really good run we had, I think there is nothing bad about it if the market takes a breather," said Tilmann Galler, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

Mr Galler said that IHS Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index for the euro zone in October was a positive signal for European stocks.

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"We believe that the euro zone can keep up this above-trend growth in the coming quarters because the region has one advantage versus the US economy - the cycle is much younger," he argued.

However, some results and negative developments on the corporate front dissapointed investors.

Energy company SBM Offshore sank 13.8 per cent after taking a US$238 million provision to settle a US investigation over a Latin American bribery case.

The company said that a preliminary settlement reached with Brazilian authorities had fallen through and it would no longer be able to participate in tenders for Petrobras, one of its largest customers.

Chemical and oil storage company Vopak fell 6.1 per cent after profit missed expectations and it lowered earnings guidance for the full year, citing weaker occupancy rates and higher costs.

Other energy stocks benefited after crude prices soared to their highest since July 2015.

Among gainers, Royal Dutch Shell rose by close to 1.5 per cent to finish at a record high.

Shares in Deutsche Telekom dropped 2.6 per cent to the bottom of the DAX after an attempt by its T-Mobile US unit to merge with Sprint Corp collapsed at the weekend.

The technology sector, meanwhile, was up 0.8 per cent after a boost from a potential US$103 billion megadeal in the chip sector. The news also lifted the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Broadcom made an unsolicited US$103 billion bid for Qualcomm on Monday, setting the stage for a major takeover battle as the chip maker looks to dominate the fast-growing market for semiconductors used in mobile phones.

Euro zone lenders were down 0.9 per cent, with investors exercising greater caution on the sector. Societe Generale was among the worst performers with a 3.7 per cent fall.

A string of target price cuts from JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Kepler Cheuvreux and Natixis have hit the French banks.

Spain's IBEX index fell 0.4 per cent, lagging most European peers after sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont turned himself in to Belgian authorities while weekend polls showed parties favouring Catalan independence would be likely to win December's regional election.