3 Min Read
* STOXX 600 index drops 0.2 pct
* M&A talk boosts RWE, Innogy shares
* Banks, resources sectors weigh
* Dutch election, U.S. rate decision eyed (Adds detail, quotes, updates prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Tuesday on uncertainty ahead of elections in the Netherlands and a U.S. interest rate decision later in the week.
After four days of gains, the pan-European STOXX 600 index eased 0.2 percent by 0952 GMT, weighed down by banks, energy stocks and basic resources .
The biggest fallers among banks were Raiffeisen Bank , Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Ireland which all lost more than 2 percent.
In a week dominated by political and central bank events, markets were focussed on the Netherlands' parliamentary election on Wednesday as well as an interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
"With a busy calendar of geopolitical events coming up, in particular across the euro zone, investors could be seen to be taking some risk off the table with several potentially volatile events lined up," Charles Hanover Investments partner, Dafydd Davies, said.
Deal-making speculation was the main driver behind stock moves, with German utility RWE the biggest STOXX gainer, jumping nearly 8 percent after saying that it might cut its stake in networks and renewables unit Innogy to 51 percent. It did not comment on a report that France's Engie was considering a bid for the company.
Innogy's shares also rose 5.7 percent, while Engie dropped 1.4 percent. RWE also reported full-year results and forecasted a higher profit in 2017.
"RWE's stake in Innogy is a financial asset that increases balance sheet strength. Monetising this stake would make the benefits of the Innogy stake more visible," Jefferies analysts said in a note.
"However, the long term benefit would depend upon how RWE's management utilises these proceeds (given the non-current nature of its debt)."
Shares in Swiss drugmaker Galenica were the biggest fallers, down more than 3 percent after the firm posted a drop in 2016 profit, saying that the acquisition of U.S.-based Relypsa last year had a negative impact on the group's results.
Britain's FTSE 100 index outperformed slightly, however, gaining 0.2 percent as sterling hit an 8-week low after British Prime Minister Theresa May won the right to trigger divorce proceedings with the European Union. (Editing by Louise Ireland)