Europe ends sharply higher; Yoox surges on merger talks

European equities closed sharply higher on Monday, having extended gains throughout the session, as investors looked ahead to forthcoming U.S. jobs data.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index (^STOXX) closed around 1.1 percent higher, with a broad-based rally across all major bourses.

The German DAX (:.GDAX) provisionally closed 1.8 percent higher, with auto, technology and chemical sectors all climbing higher during the session.

The French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) closed unofficially 1.1 percent higher, while London’s FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) finished up 0.6 percent.

Stock markets in U.S. and Europe will close early this week for the Easter vacation. The focus will remain, however, on non-farm payrolls data from the U.S., which will still be published on Friday .

If the jobs number is stronger than expected, June could be back in play for the first interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve. A weaker number could confirm the market’s expectations for a slower return to higher rates.

Back in Europe, on Monday, a euro zone index measuring consumer and business confidence posted a better-than-expected rise for March. The index came in at 103.9, better than an estimate for 103.1.

A flash figure for German inflation also showed a slight rebound, meeting met market expectations. A figure for the whole euro zone is due on Tuesday.

In individual stocks news, shares of Yoox (Milan Stock Exchange: YOOX-IT) were suspended earlier on Monday, after surging at the open. The Italian internet retailer is negotiating a “business combination'” deal with Net-a-Porter. Yoox shares reopened to end almost 10 percent higher.

Read More Who’s Yoox and why does it want Net-a-Porter?

Shares of global travel retailer Dufry (Swiss Exchange: DUF.N-CH) also rallied over 8 percent after it announced it was undertaking a rights issue in order to pay for a planned takeover of Italy’s World Duty Free.

Shares of BG Group (London Stock Exchange: BG.-GB) slipped 2.5 percent after a ratings downgrade and a cut in price target for the oil and gas producer by BMO.

Meanwhile, Lafarge (Euronext Paris: LG-FR) shares fell 2 percent after a Russian businessmen, who owns a stake in Holcim (Buenos Aires Stock Exchange: JMIN-AR), reportedly rejected the terms of a merger between the two firms.

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