M&A in pharma helps European stocks extend rally
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.9 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.7 pct
* AstraZeneca jumps 7.4 pct on M&A talk
* Philips drops 6.7 pct after disappointing earnings
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, April 22 (Reuters) - European shares rose in early trade on Tuesday as mergers and acquisitions activity in the pharma sector helped the market extend last week's gains and eclipse disappointing results from Dutch conglomerate Philips .
Shares in the healthcare, lighting and consumer appliances group tumbled 6.7 percent after reporting a bigger-than-expected fall in quarterly operating profit and warning of a challenging 2014, blaming unfavourable exchange rates and slowing demand for medical equipment in China and Russia.
"Behind the M&A noise, the earnings picture in Europe has not been very rosy so far," said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France.
"The market needs a real positive catalyst, such as a good string of corporate results or pro-active measures from the European Central Bank, otherwise this month's pull-back will soon resume."
At 0743 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.9 percent at 1,340.18 points. The index has gained about 3 percent since mid-April, but is still down about 1 percent from a near six-year high hit in early April. Continuación...