UPDATE 2-European stocks take a breather as tech, healthcare weigh
(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon news window)
* BP , Shell supported by oil output cut deal
* AstraZeneca slides after Gilead merger report
* Investors continue to move out of tech, healthcare
(Updates with market close)
By Sruthi Shankar
June 8 (Reuters) - European shares pulled back from three-month highs on Monday, with losses in technology and healthcare stocks halting a recent rally on hopes of a post-coronavirus economic recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX closed 0.3% lower, as investors moved out of sectors that remained resilient during the coronavirus-led sell-off earlier this year, while bidding up laggards such as banks .SX7P and oil and gas .SXEP firms.
Europe's healthcare index .SXDP dropped 0.6%, with AstraZeneca AZN.L sliding 2.7% after Bloomberg reported it had approached U.S. rival Gilead Sciences GILD.O about a possible merger to form one the world's largest drug companies. stocks .SX8P were led lower by chipmakers ASML ASML.AS , ASM International ASMI.AS and STMicroelectronics STM.PA , which fell more than 4%. Europe's tech index is just 4.5% below its all-time high.
Meanwhile, euro zone banks .SX7E jumped 2%, helping lender-heavy bourses in Spain .IBEX and Italy .FTMIB outperform, supported by a bigger-than-expected pandemic-related stimulus by the European Central Bank last week.
"We find the year-to-date underperformance of the European banks, and the ECB actions, have created a compelling trading opportunity to buy," KBW analysts wrote in a client note.
Euro zone stocks .STOXXE have rallied 39% from March lows, while the broader European index .STOXX has climbed about 33% as countries reopened from weeks-long lockdowns, while improving economic data and fresh stimulus raised hopes the worst is over.
"We see scope for further upside if economic normalization continues, governments in major economies do not need to reimpose lockdowns, and central bank policy remains loose," noted Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of Global Wealth Management at UBS.
"But the rally does increase the importance of selectivity within the market.
Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L , BP BP.L and Total TOTF.PA rose between 0.7% and 3% as crude prices climbed after major producers agreed to extend a deal on record output cuts. O/R
BP also got a boost as Reuters reported it would cut about 15% of its workforce in response to the coronavirus crisis. in travel and leisure stocks Carnival (NYSE: CCL ) CCL.L , Lufthansa LHAG.DE and CineWorld CINE.L rose between 8% and 9%, topping gainers on the STOXX 600.
Danske Bank DANSKE.CO jumped 7.5% after Estonian bank LHV LHV1T.TL agreed to buy its Estonian corporate and public sector credit portfolio. card payments company Wirecard WDIG.DE dropped 1.7% after prosecutors opened proceedings against its entire management board as part of a market manipulation probe.
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