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Europe stocks edge higher, supported by banks

Markets looked for direction as positive China signals failed to dispel larger concern Read More...

European shares inched higher on Monday, as investors looked for clarity on global economic growth worries, with banks providing the bulk of support.

How did markets perform?

The Stoxx 600 SXXP, +0.25%  was up 0.2% to 388.47, following Friday’s finish that left the index 0.2% higher.

Italy’s FTSE MIB I945, +0.45%  climbed 0.4% to 21,951.6, adding to a gain Friday of 0.8%.

In the U.K., the FTSE 100 UKX, +0.12%  was up a mere 0.1% to 7,444.6. It closed up 0.3% Friday.

The pound GBPUSD, +0.2907%  rose 0.2% to $1.3103. It had ticked up 0.1% Friday.

Germany’s DAX DAX, +0.24% DAX, +1.13%  was up 0.2% at 12,025.7 after climbing 0.5% Friday. France’s CAC 40 PX1, +0.23%  edged up 0.2% to 5,514.79, following Friday’s 0.3% gain.

The euro EURUSD, +0.0885%  was flat at $1.1311, reversing Friday’s increase of 0.4%.

What’s moving the markets?

U.S.-China trade talks appeared to be heading for a conclusion of sorts, at least in terms of messaging from the U.S. side. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said both sides would establish an enforcement office to regulate the other’s compliance with the rules, a sticking point for China earlier in the discussions. Reuters reported that the U.S. had backed down on their previous insistence that China rein in subsidies in the industrial sector.

Markets continued to be impressed by Friday’s China data, which surprised to the upside in exports and saw a significant increase in loan growth. There was much discussion on the weekend about whether the improving China data, offsetting global growth fears, would continue to support equities.

International Monetary Fund officials meeting in Washington D.C. issued a joint communique warning on global economic growth, following a downbeat assessment by the IMF’s chief economist on April 10. Leaders warned of the dangers of protectionism, and vowed to “mitigate risks, enhance resilience, and, if necessary, act promptly to shore up growth” if conditions deteriorated.

In earnings news, U.S. banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, +2.47%  and Citigroup Inc. C, +2.29%   as well as Canadian legal cannabis maker Aphria Inc. will be closely watched.

Which stocks are active?

European bank stocks continued to rally after ticking up Friday after U.S. bank earnings. Germany’s Commerzbank AG CBK, +2.97%   was 2.3% higher, French lender BNP Paribas SA BNP, +2.43%  rose 2.2% and Italy’s UniCredit S.p.A. UCG, +2.18%  climbed 1.9%.

Investors welcomed French advertising company Publicis Groupe SA’s PUB, +3.26%   $4.4 billion purchase of digital marketing agency Epsilon, pushing Publicis’ shares 3.8% higher. The deal is seen as a sign of Publicis’ shifting strategy towards a data-led operation in the face of U.S. digital giants putting pressure on the traditional advertising model.

Tanzania-based, U.K.-listed gold miner Acacia Mining Plc ACA, -3.23%   slumped 2.8% on news that production in the first quarter was down 13% year over year following operational issues at its North Mara mine. Acacia’s parent company, Barrick Gold Corp., ABX, -0.22%  announced an $18 billion merger with Randgold Resources in January.

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