M&A activity in pharma helps European stocks extend rally
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 1.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 1 pct
* AstraZeneca jumps 6.8 pct on M&A talk
* Philips drops 6.5 pct after disappointing earnings
By Francesco Canepa and Blaise Robinson
LONDON\PARIS, April 22 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Tuesday, extending last week's gains, as mergers and acquisitions activity in the pharmaceuticals sector eclipsed disappointing results from Dutch conglomerate Philips.
The STOXX Europe 600 health care index rose 2.7 percent as AstraZeneca rallied on speculation about a bid approach from U.S. major Pfizer, while a deal to swap assets boosted GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis .
Shares in AstraZeneca surged 6.8 percent - the top gainers among European blue chips - after Britain's Sunday Times reported that Pfizer has approached its British rival to propose a 60 billion pound ($101 billion) takeover.
GlaxoSmithKline surged 5.3 percent after it agreed to sell its oncology products to Novartis for $14.5 billion, while buying the Swiss firm's vaccines, excluding flu. Novartis' shares were up 1.9 percent.
The global pharmaceuticals sector has seen a flurry of deal-making recently and analysts expected M&A activity to be a key driver for the shares in the coming months. Continuación...