Energy shares help European shares to edge higher

European equities edged higher in early trading on Wednesday after steep declines in the previous session, with energy shares gaining following a bounce back in crude oil prices.

The STOXX Europe Oil and Gas index rose 1.2pc, the top sectoral gainer, after crude prices jumped on hopes for an agreement among exporters to freeze output. Shares in Royal Dutch Shell and BP rose around 1pc.

Miners rose 0.8 percent after activity in the service sector of China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, strengthened in March.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2pc at 1,290.71 points by 0718 GMT after falling 1.9pc in the previous session.

The healthcare sector was flat, with investors digesting news of US drug maker Pfizer agreeing on Tuesday to terminate its $160bn agreement to acquire Botox maker Allergan, in a major victory to U.S. President Barack Obama’s drive to stop tax-dodging corporate mergers.

Shares in Fortum and Swedbank fell 10pc and 6.2pc respectively as their shares traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts.

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