European shares trade sideways, focus on M&A

January 22, 2018

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares traded with little clear direction on Monday as markets focused on a flurry of M&A, with limited impact from the shutdown of the U.S. government and progress towards an end to political deadlock in Germany.

At 0830 GMT the pan-European STOXX 600 index was flat (-0.02 percent). Germany’s DAX was up 0.04 percent, France’s CAC-40 down 0.11 percent and the UK’s FTSE unchanged.

French drugmaker Sanofi fell after the company announced a $11.6 billion takeover of U.S. haemophilia treatment specialist Bioverativ, with some traders saying the deal looked expensive.

Kepler Cheuvreux analysts said the deal raised a “host of questions” and wondered whether Bioverativ’s pipeline could offset pressure from a rival Roche treatment.

Italian online luxury retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter’s shares surged 25 percent, hitting a record after shareholder Richemont moved to buy out the company.

Ocado jumped 13 percent after it signed an agreement with Sobeys to develop the online grocery business at Canada’s second-largest food retailer.

UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, saw its shares fall after posting a quarterly loss, driven by a large writedown on the U.S. tax reforms. UBS still boosted its dividends and announced a new share buyback program.

UK betting groups were the worst performers on the STOXX 600, with William Hill and Ladbrokes down 14 percent and 13 percent respectively, on a report that the government is set to cap maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting machines at 2 pounds.

South African retailer Steinhoff rose over 11 percent after it said it planned to sell about 7.5 billion rand ($620 million) of shares in investment firm PSG Group it scrambles to plug a liquidity gap.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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