Europe Factors to Watch-Shares seen higher; focus on M&A
LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - European equities were expected to bounce back on Monday, with a slew of merger and acquisition news seen improving sentiment in the market, although growing tensions in Ukraine could keep a lid on gains.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer made a bid approach to AstraZeneca in January and contacted its British rival again on April 26 seeking to renew discussions about a takeover, the U.S. firm said on Monday.
A Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca, which is expected to open about 10 percent higher on Monday, would be one of the largest ever pharmaceuticals deals. The renewed approach comes amid a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the sector.
Merck & Co is in the final stages of selling its consumer healthcare unit for close to $14 billion, with Reckitt Benckiser Group and Bayer among final contenders to clinch a deal as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said.
In another M&A news, Siemens and the French government intervened in General Electric's plan to buy the power arm of Alstom on Sunday with an alternative proposal, while reports said Pfizer could publicly show its interest in AstraZeneca as early as this week.
At 0650 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.3 to 0.4 percent higher, although geopolitical concerns prompted investors to stay cautious.
The United States and Europe are preparing new sanctions against Russia as tensions escalated in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels on Sunday paraded European monitors they are holding, freeing one but saying they had no plans to release another seven.
"The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is the biggest threat to the rally in the markets right now," Alpari analyst Craig Erlam said in a note. "Clearly if the crisis develops further, for example with Russian troops crossing the eastern border, we'd see investors attitudes change rapidly, with them becoming far more risk averse."
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which hit a near six-year high earlier this month, ended 0.8 percent lower at 1,332.83 points on Friday, when U.S. stocks slipped 0.8 to 1.8 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei share average fell 1.1 percent on Monday. Continuación...