* STOXX down 0.2 percent
* Akzo climbs close to 2-year high
* Morrisons, Carrefour results disappoint
* Financials outperform helped by Aviva
* ECB seen keeping policy firmly on hold
(Refiles to add 'on Wednesday' in para 2)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 9 European shares fell on Thursday,
weighed down by oil stocks and some disappointing company
updates but Akzo Nobel soared after the paint maker
rejected a 21 billion-euro bid from US rival PPG.
The STOXX 600 fell 0.2 percent, erasing gains made
on Wednesday, with energy stocks being the biggest drag after
crude oil prices plunged to their lowest level this year in the
Akzo Nobel rose 12 percent to its highest level in nearly
two years, leading gainers on the pan-European index. The Dutch
group said PPG's offer undervalued the company but added it
would instead look at floating or selling its specialty
Jauke de Jong, analyst at AFS Group in Amsterdam, said a
successful takeover by PPG was highly unlikely as he expected
antitrust authorities to oppose a deal between the world's two
largest paint and coating companies.
"It's unlikely that PPG will come back with an improved
offer," he said. "The decision to sell its Specialty Chemicals
business gives Akzo Nobel a lot of firepower to possibly be more
aggressive in acquisitions itself in the currently consolidating
paints and coatings industry."
News about the offer for Akzo added to a string of
deal-making activity that has helped power the recent stock
market rally along with strong economic data and a good earnings
On Thursday, however, some company updates disappointed.
Top STOXX faller was Domino's Pizza, down 11 percent
after disappointing results.
It was followed by Britain's fourth biggest supermarket
Morrisons, which gave a cautious outlook, and French
retailer Carrefour, which reported a lower than
expected operating profit.
Investors were also keeping an eye on the European Central
Bank which is widely expected to keep policy unchanged at its
meeting later in the day, but could sound less dovish after
recent strong economic data.
AFS's De Jong said he did not expect the ECB meeting today
to have a big impact on equities.
In the energy sector, Royal Dutch Shell and Total
fell more than 2 percent, making them the two biggest
drags in the STOXX index.
Financials outperformed the broader market, helped by the
likelihood of a rate hike in the U.S. next week, and by a
well-received update from Aviva.
The British insurer generated forecast-beating annual
profit, boosted by growth in general insurance and asset
management, and said more of its growing cash pile would be
handed back to shareholders in 2017.
"Overall, this was a strong beat," Bernstein analyst Edward
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Toby Davis)