European shares edge towards new six-week highs, Greece fears receding as the country's banks re-open. OCI merger talk dominates, but reports of massive new job cut targets at Barclays are played down. Grace Pascoe reports.
European shares start the week on a high. Fiat Chrysler and Alstom amongst the climbers. And Rolls-Royce - the engine maker announcing new contracts totalling 2.23 billion dollars. A welcome boost following successive profit warnings. Surging ahead of the pack though was Dutch chemical firm OCI on merger talks. BGC's Mike Ingram. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC, MARKET COMMENTATOR, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "OCI biggest riser this morning on EUROSTOXX up by 10 percent. On rumours that it is in discussion with CF Industries in the U.S. to do an asset swap. Maybe even a full merger of course, the petrochemical industry still in need of significant consolidation and of course Iran part of that particular jigsaw puzzle right now." Julius Baer was one of the big fallers of early trading. Markets troubled by the 350 million dollar penalty the Swiss bank faces after an investigation into how it helped wealthy Americans dodge taxes. Randgold and Glencore amongst the losers of the day. As gold hit five-year lows plunging as much as 4 percent with Chinese sellers offloading the metal. Barclays, though, stole many of the early headlines after reports that it was raising its job cut target from 19,000 to over 30,000 over two years. The reports were later downplayed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC, MARKET COMMENTATOR, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Well it is not entirely clear whether the job announcements this morning are anything over and above what has already been suggested by the newly departed CEO Antony Jenkins. In total those came to something like 23,000, the number that has been banded around this morning is perhaps 30,000. So I guess if you are part of that extra 7,000 then that is significant." On the macro front, Greece and the reopening of its banks helping buoy sentiment across Europe's share markets. Though doing little for the European single currency, which was still languishing close to a 2-month low.