By Sarah Turner
European shares finished higher on Monday, boosted by M&A moves in the metal and exchange sectors and lower oil prices.
The German DAX Xetra 30 closed up 0.62% to 6,452.33, helped by share gains of around 2% from defensive utility stocks RWE and E.On, and weaker oil prices.
The French CAC-40 index added 0.28% to 5,454.74 and the pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index gained 0.37% at 359.57.
The U.K. FTSE 100 index advanced 0.20% to 6,204.50.
The January crude contract declined 23 cents to $58.74 a barrel in electronic trading, inspiring some gains from traditionally oil price-sensitive stocks such as airline Air France-KLM and cruise operator Carnival Corp /zigman2/quotes/210414141/delayed UK:CCL +5.68% .
Despite some weakness early on Monday, Stephen Pope, head of equity research at Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, said he's still comfortable with the general state of the markets.
"They're drifting today. There's not really a lot of news out today apart from the M&A theories coming through. Some people are taking money off the table," added Pope.
U.S. stocks turned higher after a weak start on Monday.
Shares of Copper miner Antofagasta /zigman2/quotes/200173667/delayed UK:ANTO +1.77% rose 4.1% and peer Lonmin's shares climbed 1.7% as gold prices recovered some of last week's losses and consolidation hopes were sparked in the sector by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's /zigman2/quotes/200215692/composite FCX -0.08% plan to buy Phelps Dodge and create the world's largest copper miner.
Adding to metals deal news was Brazil's CSN, which said late Friday that it has approached the board of steelmaker Corus Group with a 475 pence, or £4.27 billion ($8.1 billion), offer proposal. If Companhia Siderurgica Nacional succeeds in buying Corus, this would make it the fifth largest steelmaker in the world.
Corus had previously accepted a 455 pence takeover deal from India's Tata Steel. Its shares closed up 1.3% at 502 pence in London on Monday.
Also, Evraz Group /zigman2/quotes/202291633/delayed UK:EVR -0.28% and Norilsk Nickel each said they were buying assets in the U.S., as the Russian metals groups eye developed markets for expansion.
"I think that it shows that the (steel sector) consolidation is going to continue this year and into the next and we're going to end up with a much tighter, more defined industry," said Cantor Fitzgerald's Pope.
Away from metal deals, shares in the London Stock Exchange /zigman2/quotes/206625606/delayed UK:LSE +0.92% rose 6% to 1,291 pence after the Nasdaq Stock Exchange offered to pay £2.7 billion ($5.1 billion) to takeover the exchange.
The LSE rejected the offer.
In more deal news, shares of U.K. broadcaster ITV /zigman2/quotes/205378065/delayed UK:ITV +2.10% lost 1.1% as hopes that NTL would make an offer for the company faded after British Sky Broadcasting bought a 17.9% stake late Friday.
BSkyB shares declined 0.7% in London.
Shares in French publishing group Lagardere slipped 1.2% after it said it has agreed to take over sports rights agency Sportfive in a deal with an enterprise value of €865 million ($1.11 billion).
Actelion shares rose 6.4% in Switzerland after it said it will buy CoTherix Inc. of California for $13.50 a share, or $420 million (525 million Swiss francs). The biopharmaceutical companies have had a long relationship through a shared focus on pulmonary arterial hypertension.
"In our opinion, this is an excellent strategic deal for Actelion at a good price," said analysts at Credit Suisse.
Also, Eutelsat Communications /zigman2/quotes/204179447/delayed FR:ETL -0.71% shares rose 5.7% to €15.28 share after the satellite operator received a takeover approach.
It didn't say who the bid was from and hired Lazard as an adviser.
Write to Sarah Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org