European stocks rise on M&A, Bayer's earnings

Reuters - UK Focus

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.7 pct

* AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) rallies 15 pct as Pfizer (NYSE: PFE - news) says to buy firm

* Bayer (Milan: BAY.MI - news) jumps after posting forecast-beating results

* Only 50 pct of Europe firms meet/beat forecasts so far

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Mondayas merger and acquisition moves in the pharmaceuticals sectorand forecast-beating results from Germany's Bayer outweighed the impact of tensions in Ukraine.

Shares in AstraZeneca rallied 15 percent after U.S.rival Pfizer said it wanted to buy the British drugmakerin a deal potentially worth more than $100 billion. The sharpjump in the stock increased the group's market capitalisation byroughly 7.7 billion pounds, or $13 billion.

"Thanks to central banks' massive (provision of) liquidity,a lot of companies are now looking for takeover targets acrossthe board, which is very positive for the market," said LionelJardin, head of institutional sales at Assya Capital in Paris.

"It helps forget about Ukraine, which seems to be slowlydisappearing from investors' radar screens despite the violence.With time, investors are getting used to the crisis."

Shares in German conglomerate Siemens dropped 2.3percent after the group said it was mulling an asset swap withFrance's Alstom (Paris: FR0010220475 - news) , which has received an offer for itspower arm from U.S. bellwether General Electric (Swiss: GE.SW - news) .

Alstom shares were still suspended on Monday while shares inBouygues (Other OTC: BOUYF - news) , which has a 29 percent stake in Alstom, wereup 2.8 percent in brisk volumes.

At 1023 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which hit a near six-year high earlier this month, wasup 0.4 percent at 1,338.36 points.

The index lost 0.8 percent on Friday as investors moved tothe sidelines, wary of a potential deterioration in theUkrainian crisis over the weekend.

U.S President Barack Obama announced new sanctions againstsome Russians on Monday to stop President Vladimir Putin fromfomenting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, as pro-Moscow rebelsshowed no sign of curbing their uprising, seizing publicbuildings in another town in the east.

On the earnings front, shares in Bayer jumped 4.7percent after posting forecast-beating quarterlyresults.

Despite Bayer, the overall earnings picture for Europeremains mixed. About one-fifth of companies of the STOXX Europe600 index have reported quarterly results so far, ofwhich only half have beaten or met analysts' expectations. Incomparison, some 75 percent of U.S. companies have beaten or metforecasts this earnings season.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.3percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.7 percent, andFrance's CAC 40 up 0.4 percent. The euro zone'sblue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.7 percent at3,167.73 points.

"Markets are on the rise with all the M&A activity, butgains should be capped ahead of the string of macro data andcentral bank signals expected later this week," FXCM (NYSE: FXCM - news) analystVincent Ganne said.

"This week, we get the all-important euro zone inflationdata, as well as the Fed's policy meeting, which should provideinsight on the pace of tapering."

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers are set to meet on Tuesdayand Wednesday.

Europe bourses in 2014: http://link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: http://link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash in London; Editing bySusan Fenton)

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