By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
Drug maker Shire may have two suitors
Most European equity markets ended modestly higher Thursday, buoyed by oil stocks as crude prices extended a rally, while investors waded through a pile of corporate earnings reports.
How indexes performed
On the national indexes, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.2% to end at 5,391.64, and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index picked up 0.2% to close at 7,328.92 . Spain's IBEX 35 picked up 0.1% at 9,868.00.
But Germany's DAX 30 index underperformed, losing 0.2% to close at 12,567.42, as shares of lender Deutsche Bank AG lost ground.
The broader Stoxx Europe 600 index ended up by less than 1 point at 381.95, but it was enough to mark a third consecutive gain. The oil and gas, consumer services, industrial and financial sectors rose, but tech and consumer goods shares slumped.
The euro changed hands at $1.2336, down from $1.2376 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the shared currency bought 1.1988 Swiss francs after hitting an intraday high of $1.2001, according to FactSet data. The currency pair traded around its highest in three years, when the Swiss National Bank removed the floor of 1.20 francs.
What drove the market
Oil stocks outperformed as oil and Brent crude prices each jumped by roughly 1.5% during the session, leaving the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index higher by 1.1% and up for a third straight session. Among oil shares, oil producer Tullow Oil gained 3.8%, and Total SA picked up 1.2%.
Oil prices extended gains , trading at their highest since 2014, as supply data released Wednesday showed an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. As well, traders are looking ahead to Friday's outcome of the joint Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee meeting.
Elsewhere in the commodities group, concerns about U.S. sanctions on Moscow have lifted prices for metals, including aluminum and nickel, which on Wednesday rallied to a 3-year high .
What strategists are saying
An oil price rally has "lit a fire under resource stocks and commodity prices" after the Energy Information Administration said oil inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels, Accendo Markets said in a note Thursday.
"Saudi Arabia added further kindling to demand for crude by indicating it would be happy for oil prices to reach as high as $80-100 a barrel, indicating that the voluntary OPEC+ supply cap is set to extend further," wrote Accendo analysts Mike van Dulken and Artjom Hatsaturjants.
"White House indecision over a new round of Russia sanctions and Venezuela's ongoing economic woes added to the supply uncertainty," they said.
Stocks in focus
Shares of Shire jumped 5.7%, after the drugmaker rejected a $60 billion takeover bid from Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co . (4502.TO) (4502.TO) but said the two sides are still in talks. Separately, Allergan PLC (AGN) said it's in the "early stages" of a possible bid for Shire.
Publicis Groupe SA shares (PUB.FR) leapt 7.4% as the advertising firm posted first-quarter organic revenue growth of 1.6% , compared with a contraction of 1.2% in the year-earlier period.
British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco PLC (IMBBY)dropped 5.4% and 2.9%, respectively, alongside a slide in rival Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) after the company's first-quarter revenue fell short of expectations .
Industrial shares as a whole also finished higher, putting the Stoxx Europe 600 Industrial Goods and Services Index up by 0.7%. There, Weir Group bloomed by 6.2%. The London-listed engineering company said it's purchasing U.S.-based ESCO Corp. in a $1.05 billion deal that Weir says will strengthen its mineral and oil-and-gas offerings.
Also, Schneider Electric SE bulked up 1.8% as the French energy management company said it is now targeting the upper half of its 2018 organic growth objective .
Unilever (ULVR.LN) fell 2.2% after the maker of Dove soap and other consumer products said first-quarter revenue fell 5.2% on adverse currency movements and the impact of disposals. The company also said it's starting a share buyback program of up to 6 billion euros ($7.43 billion).
Deutsche Bank(DBK.XE) fell 0.3% after the lender said Chief Operating Officer Kim Hammonds will leave the company next month , the latest executive to depart the embattled bank. Earlier this month, Deutsche Bank named Christian Sewing to replace John Cryan as CEO following weeks of management turmoil.
Data in focus
The eurozone's current-account surplus eased to 35.1 billion euros ($43.4 billion) in February compared with January, but remained elevated compared with the year-earlier period, data from the European Central Bank showed Thursday.
U.K. retail sales missed forecasts, falling 1.2% month-on-month in March after cold weather last month kept shoppers home. Analysts had expected sales to decline by 0.4%, according to FactSet.