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Europe: Telecoms, banks lift shares in post-Thanksgiving rally

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[LONDON] European shares closed higher on Monday after new-found optimism on Italy's budget tug-of-war with Brussels lifted shares in Milan while speculation about further mergers and acquisitions in telecoms boosted stocks in the sector.

A strong open on Wall Street amid expectations of blockbuster sales on the largest online shopping day of the year combined with a rebound in oil prices also helped indexes make gains across the board.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 1.2 per cent and Italy's FTSE MIB led the way with a 2.8 per cent jump.

Italy's banks index jumped 4.8 per cent, its strongest day since June, while the sector in the euro zone gained 2.9 per cent.

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A drop in Italian bond yields to two-month lows, due to hopes the government will agree to curb spending to avoid a clash with Brussels, drove the relief rally in lenders that have large sovereign bond portfolios.

"You potentially move from a negative spiral to a more positive spiral where you end up with less pressure on the banks, more ability to lend and that will underpin growth in a better fashion," said Pierre Bose, head of European strategy at Credit Suisse Wealth Management.

UBI Banca and Unicredit were among top Italian gainers up 6.4 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively.

The Italian banks' gains were amplified by short positions investors have been building up on the stocks in recent weeks.

But investors warned the signs of a compromise from the Italian government were not a silver bullet.

"There's a little bit more conciliatory talk, but the fine print remains key in the sense that cutting it (the budget deficit) by 0.3 or 0.4 (percentage points) will help potentially prevent an excessive deficit procedure but the broader vulnerability to weakness in growth in Italy remains," said Mr Bose.

Shares in European telecoms rallied 3.3 per cent after a report saying the European Commission was set to clear a merger in the Netherlands fueled optimism about deal-making.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Deutsche Telekom was likely to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for its bid to buy Swedish peer Tele2's Dutch unit.

The report sent shares in Tele2 up 9 per cent, while Dutch market leader KPN surged 5.8 per cent.

A rebound in oil prices after the previous session's steep losses pushed energy shares and oil majors higher with the overall sector posting a 2.2 per cent rise.

In other sectors, shares in France's Saint-Gobain jumped 4 per cent after the construction materials group launched a new business strategy and management structure which it said would improve margins and result in more cost savings.

Eurofins Scientific rose 7.9 per cent after the laboratory testing firm reduced its financing costs and extended its organic growth objectives beyond 2020, and Berenberg raised the stock to "buy" from "hold".

In the small-cap space, Faroe Petroleum shares surged 26.9 per cent after Norway's DNO offered to buy it for 152 pence per share in cash - a 20.8 per cent premium to its Friday closing price - valuing it at 607.9 million pounds.

REUTERS