(ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report for more details)
* FTSEurofirst 300 index gains 0.2 percent
* Energy shares lead the market higher
* H&M advances after encouraging update
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 6 (Reuters) - European equities edged higher on Wednesday after steep previous session declines, with energy shares up on an oil price recovery and the retail sector boosted by a less-than-expected Hennes & Mauritz profit fall.
Shares in Hennes & Mauritz, the world’s No. 2 clothes retailer, rose 4.3 percent after saying the impact of the strong U.S. dollar had started to wane and should turn neutral or slightly positive by the fourth quarter.
The STOXX Europe Oil and Gas index rose 1 percent, the top sectoral gainer, after crude prices jumped on hopes for an agreement among exporters to freeze output.
Healthcare stocks also rose 0.4 percent, with investors scrutinising news of U.S. drug maker Pfizer agreeing on Tuesday to terminate its $160 billion agreement to acquire Allergan, in a victory to U.S. President Barack Obama’s drive to stop tax-dodging corporate mergers.
Shire, which plans to buy Baxalta in a $32 billion cash and stock deal that will make it one of the world’s leading rare disease specialists, was up 2.5 percent.
Brenda Kelly, head analyst at London Capital Group, said Shire was now viewed as a target following the collapse of Allergen/Pfizer, while some other analysts said the Shire-Baxalta deal was unlikely to be impacted by the proposed U.S. rules on tax-avoiding corporate “inversions”, which lower companies tax bills by redomiciling overseas.
“With Shire being an Irish tax domiciled company, we are not clear to what extent these rules may be important. But we do not see the possible loss of this level of tax as likely to derail management’s strong desire to complete the transaction,” Credit Suisse analysts said in a note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2 percent at 1,291.00 points by 0840 GMT after falling 1.9 percent in the previous session.
Shares in Fortum and Swedbank fell 10 percent and 6 percent respectively as their shares traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts.
Today’s European research round-up
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Editing by Tom Heneghan