European shares edge higher before votes on Brexit process

March 27, 2019

(Reuters) – European shares rose slightly on Wednesday after five straight says of losses, as a flurry of dealmaking news from the region’s car makers helped outweigh global growth fears and uncertainty over Brexit.

The pan-region STOXX 600 index edged up 0.1 percent with support from a more than 1 percent rise in auto stocks while defensives utilities, food & beverage and healthcare showed a bit of fatigue after rallying in the last few days.

London’s FTSE 100 outperformed the rest of its peers ahead of a closely watched vote by British lawmakers at 1900 GMT on a range of options on how to clear the political impasse over Brexit.

Hopes that Prime Minister Theresa May’s twice-defeated divorce deal would gain some support offered a measure of support.

The auto sector could pull put of five-straight sessions of losses with Fiat Chrysler leading gains after a Financial Times report indicated that French carmaker Renault is eyeing a bid for the company.

Daimler AG’s rose 1.3 percent after it said it was nearing the sale of a 50 percent stake in its small-car brand Smart to China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.

The healthcare index slipped with Merck KGaA down 0.6 percent after the German pharma group launched a hostile $5.9 billion all-cash takeover offer for Versum Materials to boost its presence in the semiconductor materials market and sideline a rival bidder.

Swedbank fell 3.8 percent after a report that the Swedish lender may have withheld information from U.S. authorities over suspicious financial transactions.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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