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* STOXX 600 at highest level since late June
* UCB surges after favourable U.S court ruling
* Sage Group falls after data breach
* STOXX 600 still down around 5 pct in 2016
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - European stocks climbed to their highest level in seven weeks on Monday, lifted by firmer healthcare stocks after Belgian pharmaceuticals group UCB won a favourable U.S. court ruling.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index advanced 0.3 percent to 347.26 points, its highest level since late June, before markets slumped in the immediate aftermath of Britain’s shock “Brexit” vote to quit the European Union.
While the STOXX 600 index remains down by around 5 percent since the start of 2016, it is up by around 12 percent from a low point reached on June 27 after the Brexit vote.
UCB surged 8 percent after a U.S. court confirmed the validity of a patent related to the Vimpat product, lifting other healthcare stocks, with the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care index outperforming with a 0.7 percent rise.
However, Sage Group fell 2.5 percent after the company said an internal login had been used to gain unauthorised access to the data of some of its British customers.
Hantec Markets’ analyst Richard Perry said this month’s decision by the Bank of England to cut UK interest rates to record lows, along with expectations of similar steps from the European Central Bank, were keeping stock markets higher.
Record low interest rates across Europe have hit returns on bonds and cash, driving investors over to the better returns available from equities and stock market dividend payouts.
“We’re looking pretty positive. The outlook is supported by continued monetary easing by central banks,” he said.
Berkeley Futures’ associate director Richard Griffiths added that a rebound in oil prices was also keeping stock markets on a firmer footing.
“Commodities are starting to pick up, and there’s a feeling that there’s more left in this stock market rally,” he said. (editing by Dominic Evans)