The majority of the European markets closed to the upside on Monday, but concerns over Greece and Spain remain. The political situation in Greece will continue to be in focus as the country nears a new round of elections on June 17th. The news that Spain may experience further contraction in the next quarter also weighed on investors.
A rebound in the price of oil provided a boost to shares of energy companies on Monday. Positive comments from the Chinese Premier also led to gains among mining companies. Shares of major banks rebounded from last week's losses and automakers climbed on some positive news for Renault.
Leaders of the G8 nations on Saturday said they support Greece remaining in the Eurozone, while welcoming the ongoing discussion in Europe on how to generate growth alongside a firm commitment on fiscal consolidation.
"We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive Eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the Eurozone while respecting its commitments," the leaders said in a statement after the conclusion of the summit.
Spain may see another economic contraction in the second quarter of this year, Economy Minister Luis De Guindos reportedly said Monday. The gross domestic product shrank 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, pushing the economy into a technical recession after 0.3 percent slump in economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The minister also denied that Spain needs any kind of external aid for its banking sector. Last week, Moody's downgraded 16 Spanish banks, citing rising loan defaults and restricted funding access.
China will give bigger priority to policies aimed at growth going forward, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday, after a string of official data indicated a slowdown in the world's second largest economy.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks gained 0.35 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. Companies, advanced by 0.36 percent.
The DAX of Germany climbed by 0.95 percent and the CAC 40 of France finished higher by 0.64 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. dropped by 0.47 percent, but the SMI of Switzerland rose by 0.29 percent.
In Frankfurt, Merck increased by 3.10 percent. UBS upgraded its rating on the stock to "Buy" from "Neutral."
UBS upgraded ThyssenKrupp to "Neutral" from "Sell." The closed higher by 2.79 percent.
Commerzbank rose by 3.24 percent and Deutsche Bank increased by 1.77 percent.
Kabel Deutschland gained 3.20 percent, after it agreed to acquire privately-held Tele Columbus GmbH for 603 million euros.
GSW Immobilien climbed by 0.39 percent, after reporting first-quarter results.
In Paris, Renault rose by 4.81 percent and Peugeot gained 4.34 percent. UBS raised Renault to its 'Key Call List.'
UBS upgraded its rating on EADS to "Buy." The closed higher by 0.67 percent.
In London, Man Group surged by 4.65 percent. The firm agreed to acquire hedge fund research and investment specialist FRM Holdings Ltd., which has funds under management of nearly $8 billion.
Barclays plans to dispose of its entire holding in BlackRock. The stock finished higher by 2.16 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland climbed by 4.45 percent, Lloyds Banking Group gained 1.81 percent and Standard Chartered increased by 3.26 percent.
BHP Billiton gained 1.03 percent and Vedanta Resources climbed by 5.69 percent. Kazakhmys rose by 2.24 percent and Xstrata closed higher by 3.09 percent.
Shares of BP rose by 1.24 percent and Tullow Oil finished up by 2.99 percent.
British Land climbed by 1.60 percent, after reporting an increase in underlying earnings for the year.
Ryanair Holdings dipped by 0.25 percent, after predicting a lower profit for the current year.
Holcim gained 0.19 percent in Zurich. The stock was raised to "Buy" from "Neutral" at UBS.
Eurozone construction output rebounded sharply in March, the latest figures from Eurostat revealed Monday. Construction output jumped 12.4 percent month-on-month in March, recovering from a 10.4 percent slump in February and 0.5 percent fall in January.
A leading indicator of French economic activity continued to rise for a second month in March, suggesting that the risk of an economic contraction may be decreasing in the near-term. The Conference Board said Monday that the leading economic index rose 0.4 percent month-on-month in March, following a revised 0.6 percent increase in February and a flat reading in January.
by RTT Staff Writer
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