M&A in pharmaceuticals helps European shares extend rally
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 1.4 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 1.3 pct
* Indexes extend gains after strong euro zone consumer confidence
* AstraZeneca jumps 6.3 pct on M&A talk
* Philips drops 5.5 pct after disappointing earnings
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Tuesday, setting a key index on course for its biggest daily gain in nearly two months on the back of mergers and acquisitions activity in the pharmaceuticals sector and bullish euro zone consumer confidence data.
The STOXX Europe 600 health care index rose 3.2 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 .
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.
"Any stock in the industry is a target apart from the ones that are too big (such as Pfizer and Novartis)," said Lars Hevreng, an analyst at SEB Equities. Continuación...