- AstraZeneca leads healthcare stocks lower
- China house prices slide
- Greek elections mixed
- Weidmann says ECB will consider euro in policy decision
- Russia orders withdrawal of troops
FTSE 100: -0.42%
CAC 40: -0.32%
FTSE MIB: -2.38%
IBEX 35: -1.12%
Stoxx 600: -0.55%
European stocks slumped as AstraZeneca led healthcare stocks lower after rejecting Pfizer's increased bid to buy the UK drugmaker.
fell as much as 14% in morning trade after the board rejected a sweetened £55-a-share bid from Pfizer. A gauge of European health-care companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, posted the worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600 following the news.
Also weighing on stocks was a report from the real estate sector in China which showed property prices dropped last month. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, eight of the country's cities saw a monthly decline in the average commercial house price, compared to the four which saw a fall in March.
In Greece, the first round of the municipal elections produced a mixed result that allowed both the coalition and the opposition party to claim they performed well.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's New Democracy party were ahead in nine of Greece's 13 administrative regions, with 94% of the vote counted, while independent candidates led in the country's two largest cities.
ECB to consider euro strength in policy making
Bundesbank Chief Jen Weidmann on Monday said the European Central Bank (ECB)will watch the euro's exchange rate
closely before taking policy decisions.
His comments, in the text of a speech before delivery at a finance conference in Frankfurt, come in the wake of bets the ECB will ease its policy next month amid weak inflation and a stagnant recovery in the Eurozone.
"The decision to do so would mean the ECB either having to cut rates to new record lows, which would be pointless given that they are already at record lows of 0.25%, or delve into uncharted territory which the ECB has thus far been extremely reluctant to do," according to Craig Erlam, Analyst at Alpari.
"The views of Weidmann, who is viewed as the most hawkish member of the governing council, could prove to be the difference between the ECB easing at the next meeting and not, so it's no surprise that his remarks today will be analysed closely and could therefore have a significant impact on the markets."
Weidmann also warned of taking a one-dimensional view of the euro's strength and leaving out the stimulating effects of lower sovereign bond yields.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of troops near Ukraine's border, the Kremlin said.
Units in the Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions should return to their permanent bases, according to a statement.
Tensions between Russia have escalate since the overthrow of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February, following months of street protests. Presidential elections will be held on May 25th.
United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told the BBC that he hoped the planned presidential election could take place, but that it would be "extremely difficult".
Deutsche Bank, Adidas
Deutsche Bank AG retreated after Germany's biggest bank sold about 60m shares to the Qatari royal family as it announced plans to raise €8bn in its second-largest capital increase.
Adidas AG slumped after the world's second-biggest sporting-goods maker said it will probably need more time to meet its 2015 sales and margin targets because of the strong euro.
Ryanair's shares escalated after reporting earnings that beat analysts' estimates.
Saab AB edged lower as the Swedish company stands to lose a 3.1bn-franc ($3.5bn) order for Gripen fighter jets after Swiss voters rejected the deal in a referendum.
The euro rose 0.18% to $1.3718.
Brent crude futures rose $0.327 to $110.110 per barrel, according to the ICE.