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European stocks up, takeover action supports again

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Mar 20 (Reuters) European shares firmed on Monday with UK insurer Prudential jumping as the recent takeover frenzy refuses to abate.

Shares in Prudential shot up 12 per cent with rival Aviva Plc saying it would only proceed with a spurned 17-billion-pound all-share offer for its closest rival if it was recommended by its target. Other insurers also rose strongly.

Anglo American Plc added 2.9 per cent, to be the top European blue-chip gainer, after the world's third biggest mining group declined to comment on a newspaper report Finnish-Swedish Stora Enso was considering a 4.5 billion pound takeover bid for its paper unit Mondi.

Other miners such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton also rose, with copper and zinc near record highs.

By 0815 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares was 0.55 percent higher at 1,376.85, approaching a near five-year, intra-day high of 1,378.93 set on Friday.

''Traders believe at least for the short term, that the run will continue in the current environment,'' said Harley Salt at IG Index.

''Commodities have opened the week stronger.'' Upbeat finishes on Japan's Nikkei on Monday and for U.S. stocks on Friday also gave European stocks early impetus.

Among rare losers, UK supermarket group Morrison slipped 1.2 percent on worries that Thursday's profit numbers will be worse than expected.

Notwithstanding any twists in the many and various takeover sagas, the corporate and economic agenda is thin with U.S.

technology heavyweight Oracle due to report after the Wall Street close.

REUTERS SD DB2005

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