M&A rush, strong earnings see European stocks close at new highs



* Meggitt hits record high on Parker-Hannifin deal

* HSBC, AXA rise after results

* Allianz slides on U.S. probe (Updates to market close)

By Sruthi Shankar and Ambar Warrick

Aug 2 (Reuters) - European stocks ended at a new peak on Monday, as increased dealmaking activity and a batch of strong financial sector earnings helped markets mark a strong start to August.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.6% to end at a record closing high of 464.45 points, with retail .SXRP and technology .SX8P stocks serving as the best performers.

British aero-engineer Meggitt MGGT.L soared 56.7% to the top of the STOXX 600, hitting a record high after U.S. industrial firm Parker-Hannifin PH.N said it would buy the UK rival in a deal valued at $8.76 billion.

Among other deals, British asset management services provider Sanne Group SNNS.L jumped 7.6% after it said it could get a takeover bid from fund servicer Apex Group.

German real estate firm Vonovia VNAn.DE rose 2.2% as it launched a sweetened, 19.1 billion euro ($22.7 billion) bid to buy rival Deutsche Wohnen DWNG.DE .

Axa AXAF.PA , Europe's second-largest insurer, gained 4.2% after it posted a 180% surge in first-half net income.

German rival Allianz ALVG.DE tumbled 7.8% after U.S. regulators started a probe relating to Allianz Global Investors' Structured Alpha Funds.

Asia-focussed lender HSBC HSBA.L edged 0.3% lower, even after it beat forecasts for first-half pretax profit and reinstated dividend payments.

Of the more than half of the STOXX 600 companies that have reported second-quarter results so far, 67% have topped profit estimates, as per Refinitiv IBES data.

"Having reached all-time highs post 1Q results, the breadth of positive EPS revisions in Europe remains very strong both in absolute terms and versus peers," European equity strategists at Morgan Stanley said in a note. "Europe now sees the best earnings revisions of all global regions."

Optimism around European earnings and economic reopening helped the benchmark STOXX 600 end July with a sixth straight month of gains despite concerns about inflation, soaring virus cases in Asia and a major regulatory crackdown in China.

Meanwhile, a survey showed manufacturing activity across the euro zone continued to expand at a blistering pace in July, but supply bottlenecks sent input costs soaring.

British jet and auto parts supplier Senior Plc SNR.L jumped 9.3% after it reported a first-half profit compared with a loss a year earlier.

Peer Melrose MRON.L gained 5.2%, while Rolls-Royce RR.L added 3.8% .

The world's second-largest brewer Heineken HEIN.AS inched up 0.6% after reporting first-half earnings above expectations, but warned rising commodity costs would eat into margins.

German carmaker Daimler DAIGn.DE rose 1.5% after Goldman Sachs added the stock to its conviction list. ($1 = 0.8415 euros)



STOXX 600 scales new peak Link



Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru;
Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Richard Chang

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