European Stocks Edge Up From 3-Month Lows; Bayer Sells Diabetes Division

LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stock indices edged higher on Wednesday, recovering from three-month lows, as reports stoked frequently dashed hopes that Greece may yet reach a debt deal.

Greece submitted another reform proposal, but government officials said its international creditors have yet to respond. The comments contradicted earlier suggestions that creditors had already batted it back. Reports also suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were planning to meet.

In the U.K., April manufacturing output unexpectedly fell month-on-month, according to Office for National Statistics data, but industrial output in April beat expectations, rising 1.2% on the year and 0.4% from March.

Industrial output figures for France and Italy lagged forecasts.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.37% at 6,778.55. In Frankfurt, the DAX rose 0.29% at 11,033.53. In Paris, the CAC 40 was up 0.28% at 4,863.58.

In Frankfurt, pharmaceuticals company Bayer (BAYRY) rose after striking a deal to sell its diabetes care business to Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts (KKR)-backed Panasonic Healthcare Holdings for just over €1 billion ($1.1 billion).

J Sainsbury (JSAIY) led the FTSE 100 higher after reporting that first-quarter same-store sales had declined 2.1%, the sixth consecutive monthly decline. But the results were no worse than expectations, and the company said sales volumes improved.

Standard Chartered (SCBFF) also rose sharply, buoyed by a Times report that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will use a high-profile annual speech Wednesday to announce the phasing out of a post-credit crisis tax on banks' balance sheets known as the bank levy. Osborne is desperate to keep both Standard Chartered and HSBC Holdings (HSBC), both of which do much of their business in Asia, from moving their headquarters outside of the U.K. New CEO Bill Winters, a former JPMorgan Chase (JPM) investment banker, took the helm of Standard Chartered today.

But another FTSE 100 constituent, industrial machinery maker Weir (WEIGF) fell after reporting a challenging second quarter in its oil and gas division, which it said "continued to experience a sequential decline in activity during April and May." The Glasgow, Scotland-based company said its minerals unit and its power and industrial divisions performed in line with earlier guidance.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.com (BHOOY) rose after above-forecast first-quarter sales growth indicated a more targeted marketing campaign and expenditure to improve prices and delivery are paying off after a difficult 2014.

IT services company Cap Gemini (CGEMY) fell in Paris on news of a €500 million share issue to help fund its purchase of Igate (IGTE).

Engineering services company Spie rose on its debut after backer Clayton, Dubilier & Rice priced its IPO shares near the top of a marketing range.

In Stockholm, Thule, which makes snow chains, bike racks and other car-storage equipment and accessories, slumped as backer Nordic Capital announced the sale of a 20% stake. It will retain a 44.3% holding.

In China, mainland indices ended mixed, with the losers largely recovering from earlier declines after U.S. index provider MSCI postponed including China-listed shares in one of its benchmark indices.

The Shanghai Composite index closed down 0.15% at 5,106.04. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng slid 1.12% at 26,687.64. And in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.25% at 20,046.36 and the Topix closed down 0.38% at 1,628.23.

After Tokyo markets closed, Tokio Marine Holdings (TKOMY) announced it had struck a $7.5 billion deal, its biggest takeover agreement ever, to buy HCC Insurance Holdings (HCC), of Houston.

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