European stocks flat as drug stocks soar; Imagination Technologies up 15%

European stocks closed mixed on Thursday after Senate Republicans released their heath care bill, which would repeal Obamacare. You can read more here.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished the session around the break-even mark, up 0.01 percent, as gains in the healthcare sector offset losses in the oil stocks. The main bourses were mixed.


The health care sector advanced more than 2 percent, with its main components all registering strong gains. Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline rose 2.3 percent, biotech company Shire climbed 3.3 percent and Astrazeneca jumped 2.1 percent.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis soared more than 5 percent after positive results from the study of its drug canakinumab, which cut the risk of heart attack survivors.

Elsewhere, Imagination Technologies announced it would put itself up for sale on Thursday, weeks after launching a formal dispute against its largest customer - Apple. Shares in the group jumped almost 15 percent.

Shares in British-based manufacturing firm, Rotork, and Swedish engineering group, Alfa Laval, both moved towards the top of the benchmark on Thursday. Morgan Stanley upgraded each stock to overweight, saying the companies were likely to profit from a stronger business environment.

Oil and gas firms led the losses, down more than 0.7 percent, as almost every stock in the sector fell below the flatline. Barclays downgraded European oil and gas producers to "negative" from "neutral" on Thursday, saying the fundamental outlook for the sector had become "increasingly challenged." London-based offshore contractor Subsea 7 slipped more than 4 percent on the news.

On Wall Street, stocks traded higher on Thursday, led by strong gains in the health care sector.

Politics could also affect sentiment on Thursday, as the first day of a two-day European Council meeting kicks off.

At the summit, European Union leaders are set to focus on two objectives: strengthening the EU and protecting its citizens. Therefore key topics set to arise include terrorism, security, globalization and climate change.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to make an appearance at the summit, where she is likely to inform other leaders of the U.K.'s intentions when it comes to exiting the political-economic bloc.

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