- European stocks pushed higher on Monday, boosted by news Britain''s Astrazeneca could be aquired by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, while markets continued to eye developments in the Ukraine.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.74%, France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.51%, while Germany’s DAX advanced 0.77%.

Investors remained cautious as hostilities between Russia and Ukraine continued. On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington was ready to step up sanctions on Russia.

The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.

In a joint statement on Monday, G-7 nations said they would "move swiftly to impose additional sanctions on Russia" because the latter has not moved to comply with the Geneva accord.

Financial stocks turned broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PARIS) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PARIS) gained 1.23% and 0.23%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) climbed 0.40%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) gained 0.51% and 1.12% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) advanced 0.68% and 0.86%.

Elswhere, Bayer (BAYGN.XETRA) surged 4.33% after the German pharmaceutical and chemicals conglomorate said it is exploring a sale of its $10 billion plastics unit to focus on boosting its health business.

The news came after the company reported a 12% rise in first-quarter profit, helped by new medicines and a rebound at its plastics unit.

In London, FTSE 100 rose 0.33%, still led by Astrazeneca (AZN.LONDON), up 14.63%, after Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) confirmed that it is interested in acquiring the U.K. drugmaker for about £58.8 billion. The acquisition would be one of the largest takeovers in the industry’s history.

Meanwhile, financial stocks turned mixed, as Barclays (BARC.LONDON) inched up 0.01% and HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LONDON) gained 0.46%, while Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LONDON) retreated 0.43% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LONDON) plummeted 1.86%.

In the mining sector, stocks remained mostly lower. Bhp Billiton (BLT.LONDON) declined 0.89% and Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LONDON) lost 1%, while rival company Rio Tinto (RIO.LONDON) saw shares plunge 2.01%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.35% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.33% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.32% gain.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release private sector data on pending home sales.

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