(ADVISORY- Follow European and UK stock markets in real time on
the Reuters Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets)
MILAN Dec 9 European shares were slightly
higher in early trading on Friday, underpinned by a rebound
among healthcare stocks, while Gemalto rose
after an acquisition.
By 0820 GMT, the STOXX Europe 600 was up 0.1
percent, on track for its best week since February and after
reaching its highest level in 11 months in the previous session.
The pan-European index was boosted this week by a powerful
rally in banking stock which got a further boost on Thursday by
the European Central Bank's unexpected decision to cut its
monthly asset purchase.
Europe's banking index was down 0.7 percent, but
remained set for its best week in five years.
Investors instead dipped back in to under-pressure defensive
stocks, with healthcare having been out of favour on concerns
over pricing pressure in the United States. The sector rose 0.9
Amsterdam-based digital security company Gemalto rose 3.3
percent after agreeing to buy 3M's identity management business
for $850 million.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni)