European markets followed New York and Asia down this morning as investors were spooked by the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Eastern Ukraine and Israel stepped up its invasion of Gaza. Moscow fell over 1.5% as renewed sanctions loomed. AbbVie and London-listed Shire agreed a cash and shares merger, valuing Shire’s stock at about $54.7 billion. Shire’s shareholders will own 25% of the combined company. Private equity owned hospital operator Shire Healthcare priced at the bottom of its marketing range. British banks came under renewed pressure, especially Royal Bank of Scotland which has reportedly been asked to accelerate the sale of 314 branches already demanded by regulators.

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