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European Stocks Rise; AstraZeneca Jumps on Renewed Pfizer Interest

LONDON ( The Deal) -- Growing tensions in Ukraine once again cast a pall over Europe and Asia on Monday. But with the pharmaceuticals industry delivering more strong medicine, the main European markets started the morning in recovery mode. Even Moscow's Micex Composite index, which opened by plummeting 1.4%, was actually in positive territory by the end of the morning there. At 1,280, it was fractionally above Friday's close, after falling every day last week.

In London, British pharma heavyweight AstraZeneca (AZN - Get Report) topped the leader board with a 15% rise to 4,694, after U.S. giant Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) confirmed it had renewed its interest in an acquisition,  a previous approach in January was worth about $100 billion. But it said AstraZeneca had once again declined to engage. Pfizer is reviewing its options and could consider going hostile.

And in Frankfurt, Bayer was up 4.4% at 99.9 euros, both on good results -- its quarterly net profit was up 23% at 1.42 billion euros -- and because of reports that it could look to divest its plastics division to concentrate on pharmaceuticals.

But German engineering group Siemens (SI) fell 1.8% to 94.22 euros, as the markets got their first chance to react to Sunday's news Siemens was making a counter-offer for French engineer Alstom, which is currently in talks with GE (GE). Reports said Siemens chief executive Joe Kaeser wrote to Alstom boss Patrick Kron, offering to swap the German group's high-speed trains and locomotives division plus cash -- believed to be up to 11 billion euros -- in return for the French group's global power assets. Trading in Alstom is suspended until Wednesday, while the French government decides its position on what it may conclude is a matter of national security.

Meanwhile, shares in British explorer Premier Oil are down 1.47% at 321.9 penceafter its FTSE 250 peer Ophir Energy dropped a merger proposal, which Premier had rebuffed. Ophir is down 1.36% at 240 pence.

London's FTSE 100 was up 0.31% at 6706, while in Paris the CAC40 was up 0.57%at 4,469. In Frankfurt the DAX was up 0.84% at 9,480.

In Asia, Hong Kong closed down 0.41% at 22,132.52, while in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.98% at 14,288.23. Asia was worried both by developments in Ukraine and by the prospects of a further taper of U.S. Federal Reserve asset buying when the Fed's Open Market Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday. In part that nervousness is driven by foreign currency trades. Rises in the Japanese yen and Korean won, which are seen as haven currencies, can weigh on their export oriented stock markets.

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