Dealmaking supports European shares as Syria worries persist

 (Reuters) - Fresh dealmaking activity helped support European shares in early trading on Thursday, although investors remained cautious on worries over the prospect of U.S. military action in Syria.
The DAX (German stock index) logo is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was flat in percentage terms at 0724 GMT, having lost 0.6 percent on Wednesday, while the UK’s FTSE and Germany’s DAX were down 0.01 and 0.09 percent respectively.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia this week of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We may well see a military response by the end of the week, as the situation in Syria ramps up further, and this may well temper investor enthusiasm to buy back into the market ahead of the weekend,” said CMC market analyst Michael Hewson.
However investors found some comfort in some merger and acquisition developments.
Shire rose 1.2 percent after sources told Reuters Takeda had sounded out creditors for loans to help finance a possible bid for the British rare disease specialist.
Firstgroup spiked 9 percent after news it rejected a takeover approach from Apollo, while Playtech rose 6.4 percent after it agreed to buy Italian betting firm Snaitech in a $1 billion deal. Snaitech was up 14 percent.
Sulzer rallied 16 percent after the Swiss pumpmaker freed itself of U.S. sanctions after authorities approved its buyback of shares that has reduced Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg’s stake to less than 50 percent. Sulzer’s shares have lost 22 percent in the last 3 days due to sanction worries.
In earnings, Carrefour fell 5 percent following weak quarterly sales.