Pharma weighs on European shares but FTSE sets record-breaking streak

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 23:20 hrs

* FTSE 100 scores longest winning streak on record

* Pan-European STOXX index ends up 0.2 pct

* Trump comments on drug prices hits healthcare stocks

* Mediaset rallies on report of Vivendi boss offer (Live coverage of European markets now available on cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets. Adds details, closing prices)

By Danilo Masoni and Helen Reid

MILAN/LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - European shares ended off highs on Wednesday as pharma stocks turned lower on worries over pricing pressure in the U.S. following remarks by Donald Trump in his first news conference.

Europe's index of healthcare stocks fell 0.7 percent, weighing on the region's benchmark STOXX Europe 600 index which inched up 0.2 percent at the close.

In spite of the turn into negative territory of drug stocks, Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to a new record high, closing higher for the twelfth consecutive session in its longest winning streak in the index's 33-year history. Cumulative gains however over the period were limited to 3.5 percent.

The U.S. President-elect commented on the need for competitive drug pricing saying pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder" by charging high drug prices.

London-listed drugmakers Shire and Astrazeneca fell 3.2 percent and 1.8 percent, leading losers in their sector, while Swiss heavyweights Novartis and Roche both fell more than 1 percent, causing the SMI index to end with a drop of 0.3 percent.

Elsewhere, retail stocks were back in focus after a well-received update from British grocer Sainsbury.

Sainsbury's shares rose as much as 7.8 percent after Britain's second-biggest supermarket beat forecasts for underlying sales in its Christmas quarter. The stock however ended off highs with a gain of 1 percent.

This followed peer Morrison's strong performance in the previous session after it too reported robust figures.

"UK supermarkets seem to be in rude health following bullish statements from both Morrison's and Sainsbury's," said IG analyst Josh Mahony.

Mediaset rose 5.9 percent, topping gainers on the STOXX. Traders cited a report that Vivendi chief Vincent Bollore could offer a stake in the French media group to the Berlusconi family in a bid to end a dispute over control of the Italian broadcaster.

Another outstanding gainer was Danish bioscience company Chr Hansen following consensus-beating first-quarter earnings. The stock rose 5.1 percent.

But British aero engineering firm Cobham fell 14.9 percent, after it missed its profit target and scrapped its final dividend.

Cobham's 2016 trading profit fell short of a target it had cut just two months before the end of the year because of poor trading. It was headed for its worst day ever, through nearly three days' trading in mid-morning.

UBS equities analysts said a recent change in management, with a new CEO and CFO, meant further revisions were likely once new managers undertake a deep review of the business. (Additional reporting by Kit Rees)



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