April 7, 2016 / 8:42 AM / 2 years ago

European shares edge ahead, helped by healthcare, oils

* FTSEurofirst up 0.3 percent

* Healthcare stocks top gainers for a second day

* Daimler, Skanska, Pearson go ex-div, shares among top losers (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) Adds details)

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, April 7 (Reuters) - European shares were slightly higher on Thursday with gains in healthcare and oil stocks only in part offset by some stocks such as Daimler going ex-dividend.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 percent by 0819 GMT, adding to gains seen on Wednesday when the region’s markets rebounded from six week lows hit earlier in the week after weak economic data.

Despite the slight gains, sentiment remained fragile.

“What markets really would need are more positive global economic data ... indicating a pick up in economic activity especially in the Eurozone and the US,” City of London Markets trader Markus Huber said in a note.

In its annual report on Thursday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the future of the global economy remains uncertain and there are questions about Europe’s ability to weather new shocks.

Healthcare stocks were the top sectoral gainers for a second session with a rise of 1.2 percent after the termination of the mega Pfizer/Allergan merger deal fuelled talk of other consolidation activity in the sector.

Shire rose 1 percent after the UK drugmaker said it expected its deal to buy American drugmaker Baxalta to proceed as expected, while eslewhere in the sector Roche gained 1 percent and Astrazeneca rose more than 2 percent.

Oil sector stocks rose 1.1 percent as crude futures rose on a raft of supportive indicators on Thursday, although some traders warned that physical supply and demand fundamentals did not warrant a strong price recovery at this stage.

German carmaker Daimler fell more than 3 percent.

Among other companies going ex dividend were Skanska which fell 6.9 percent, making the stock the biggest faller on the FTSEurofirst, and Pearson which slipped 5.5 percent.

Wirecard rose 3 percent after the German payments processor reported a rise in full-year profits and proposed lifting its dividend, but volumes remained low.

Today’s European research round-up

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). In a real-time, multimedia format from 0600 London time through the 1630 closing bell, it will include the best of our market reporting, Stocks Buzz service, Eikon graphics, Reuters pictures, eye-catching research and market zeitgeist. Breaking news and dramatic market moves will continue to be alerted to all clients and we will continue to provide a short opening story and comprehensive closing reports.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions or feedback on this, please email mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com.

Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA.

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