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* STOXX 600 near eight-month highs
* Micro Focus surges after Hewlett Packard deal
* Rocket Internet shares fall after cutting Home24 valuation
LONDON, Sept 8 European stock markets gained
ground on Thursday, leaving a leading index near eight-month
highs, with software company Micro Focus surging after
a deal with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.2
percent, near its highest level in eight months.
Micro Focus rose around 20 percent, the best-performing
stock on the STOXX 600 index, after sealing an $8.8 billion deal
for Hewlett Packard Enterprise to merge its non-core
software assets with Micro Focus's business.
However, Rocket Internet fell 5 percent after the
German e-commerce investment company cut the valuation of its
Home24 online furniture business.
Many investors were also focusing on a European Central Bank
meeting later in the day.
Expectations of more pledges to help the sluggish euro zone
economy from ECB President Mario Draghi have pushed down bond
yields, which in turn has driven investors over to the better
returns available from stocks and company dividends.
"Draghi isn't anywhere near to achieving his goals, and he
might very well continue to assure the market that there might
be more to come and that he still has tools available to boost
growth," said Markus Huber, trader at City of London Markets
The euro zone economy is widely expected to need more
stimulus from the central bank, but it may not come at the
bank's policy meeting on Thursday.
Growth and inflation remain weak, but the ECB has already
exhausted much of its firepower, so Draghi has to pick his time
and probably has enough arguments to wait a bit longer.
Nonetheless, it is probably just a matter of months before
the ECB eases policy further, acknowledging that inflation is
not moving higher, despite free credit to banks, record-low
interest rates and money printing worth 1.2 trillion euros
($1.35 trillion) in the past year and a half.
The STOXX 600 index is down around 4 percent so far in 2016,
although it has rallied over the last two months from lows
reached back in June after Britain's shock 'Brexit' vote to quit
the European Union.
(Editing by Larry King)