European shares led higher by telecoms on M&A talk

LONDON, June 17 Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:29am BST

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) - European equities extended gains on Monday, led higher by telecom shares after the sector was buoyed by fresh mergers and acquisition talk.

The sector rose 1.6 percent, helped by a 2.2 percent rise in shares of Spanish telecoms company Telefonica after a report in newspaper El Mundo that the government had blocked a 70 billion euro ($93.4 billion) tender offer from AT&T for the company.

However, oil and gas shares fell 0.1 percent after a 22 percent drop in shares in Europe's biggest oil service group, Saipem, after the company issued its second profit warning in less than six months late on Friday.

Investors were also trading cautiously ahead of any comment from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke after its June 18-19 policy meeting.

"If Bernanke's comments help calm rumours that monetary (policy) tapering is not imminent, then we could see a short-lived rally in the market. But these concerns will resurface soon as U.S. monetary easing could be scaled down in the second half," Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich, said.

"We have a risk that the market could fall 3 to 5 percent in the summer months."

At 0722 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,181.76 points after rising 0.2 percent in the previous session.