Tuesday, September 02 16:30:35
European shares slipped today as major healthcare stocks fell after drugmaker AstraZeneca tried to play down speculation about a new bid from Pfizer.
The region's stock markets were also waiting to see if the European Central Bank made any changes in policy this week. Few expect any major steps, but most expect policy to loosen eventually, as persistent disinflation and conflict in Ukraine curb the euro zone's growth.
However, some traders said they believed that markets had already made their move higher on anticipation of new ECB measures, and therefore had little room to gain any more ground.
"We wouldn't chase stocks at these levels," said HED Capital head Richard Edwards.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has risen nearly 7 percent from its mid-August low, edged down by 0.1 percent to 1,374.88 points towards the close of the trading day.
A 1.8 percent fall at AstraZeneca took the most points off the index. It also contributed to a drop in the shares of rivals such as Roche and Novartis. The STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare weakening 0.7 percent.
AstraZeneca's shares fell after the company's chief executive told Reuters in an interview that everything was "back to normal", in spite of speculation that Pfizer would make a new bid for the British company.
European shares have rallied following dovish comments by ECB President Mario Draghi. His remarks led to bets the through purchases of government or corporate bonds, a measure known as quantitative easing. (Reuters)
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