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Pharma firms help European shares off to good month start


British drugmaker AstraZeneca

British drugmaker AstraZeneca

AFP/Getty Images

British drugmaker AstraZeneca

European shares kicked off June on a positive note on Monday, helped by a rise in pharma stocks, although main indexes were still stuck in their recent range as uncertainty persisted over Greece's future.

AstraZeneca and Roche, both up more 2 percent, led a rise in the healthcare sector after each published a positive update on one of their anti-cancer drugs.

They were the top risers on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which was up 0.6 percent after shedding 2 percent the previous week.

Athens and its euro zone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors have been locked in talks for months on a cash-for-reforms agreement. Athens faces a payment to the IMF on June 5 as well as the expiration of its bailout programme on June 30.

"We were short at the end of last week but we're neutral now," Markus Huber, senior trader at Peregrine & Black, said.

"Greece may not get a deal last week but they will probably make the (IMF) payment."

Investors were awaiting May manufacturing data from major euro zone countries and the currency bloc as a whole between 0745 GMT and 0800 GMT. Monthly German inflation data, which helped spark a selloff in bonds in May, was due at 1200 GMT.