European shares gain ahead of big week for central banks

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Dec 13 (Reuters) - European shares inched higher on Monday, lifted by economically sensitive sectors, ahead of monetary policy decisions by some of the world's largest central banks that could potentially include an early end to U.S. policy stimulus.

The pan-European benchmark STOXX 600 .STOXX was up 0.3% at 476.88 points, as of 0826 GMT. Asian stocks tracked Wall Street gains after U.S. inflation data, which was well within market expectations, sent the S&P 500 .SPX to all-time high on Friday.

Investor focus is on monetary policy decisions expected to be taken by the European Central Bank (ECB), the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan this week.

The ECB is set to halve the amount of assets it buys each month from April, according to a Reuters poll, which judged that a reprieve from high euro zone inflation by late 2022 means a rate hike is years away.

Miners .SXPP offered the biggest boost, jumping 1.6% after top copper consumer China pledged to focus on economic stability and keep growth within a reasonable range next year.

Vifor Pharma VIFN.S jumped 14% after Australian biopharma giant CSL CSL.AX confirmed it was in talks to buy the Swiss drugmaker in a deal reported by media to be worth about $7.2 billion.

Shares of UniCredit CRDI.MI advanced 1.7% after the lender announced it wants to grow its domestic footprint and could consider tie-ups in Italy and beyond, but has no interest in the country's biggest insurer Generali GASI.MI and its top shareholder Mediobanca MDBI.MI .

Air France KLM AIRF.PA inched up 0.3% after saying it redeemed 500 million euros from an earlier French state loan issued to help the carrier cope with the pandemic, and could also raise new equity.

Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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