Oil retreat takes wind out of sails of European rally, M&A in focus

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) – Retreating crude prices removed a
key driver of European stocks’ buoyant start to the month on
Tuesday, leading them lower as a spate of dealmaking news moved
individual stocks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.4 percent by 0720
GMT, in line with a dip in Euro zone stocks and
blue-chips. Britain’s FTSE was 0.5 percent

European shares had their strongest day since the first
round of the French presidential election on Monday, buoyed by a
rally in crude prices and strong banking stocks.

But basic resources and banks were among the
worst performers on Tuesday, while oil and gas stocks
fell 0.3 percent.

Dealmaking returned with a vengeance as a key driver of
individual share moves.

EDP was a top gainer, up 3.8 percent after Spain’s
Gas Natural approached the Portuguese utility for a $40
billion merger which would create Europe’s fourth biggest
utility by market capitalisation and could spur further
consolidation in the utility sector.

Gas Natural shares, meanwhile, fell 0.6 percent at the open.
Shares in French rival EDF also dropped 2.5 percent.

Clariant shares gained 3.9 percent after two
activist investors upped their stake in the Swiss chemicals firm
in order to ramp up pressure on shareholders to oppose a planned
merger with U.S. firm Huntsman.

Baader Helvea analysts said the move could make a counterbid
more likely.

And the prospect of suitors Bain and Cinven getting
regulatory approval for a renewed offer for Stada
sent the generic drugmaker’s shares up 3 percent.

Elsewhere, Worldpay jumped 7.1 percent. Its rival
Nets confirmed on Monday it had been approached by
potential buyers.
(Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Kit Rees)