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European shares tick higher as bank stocks lead gains

* Bank sector at 6-month highs

* Rio Tinto weighs down basic resources sector

* Nestle, ex-div, weighs on Swiss index (Adds details, quote; Updates prices)

April 15 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher in quiettrading on Monday, with bank stocks leading the gains, asSino-U.S. trade optimism and strong Chinese economic data easedsome worries over the global economy.

By 0932 GMT, the pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX wasup 0.1 percent, hovering near eight-month highs. The banks-heavyItalian .FTMIB and Spanish indices .IBEX led the gains.

Mark Taylor, sales trader at Mirabaud Global Thematic Groupin London, said banking stocks .SX7P could be rising due to"U.S. and German yield curves starting to move off their lows".

JPMorganJPM.N handily beating quarterly profit estimateson Friday and kickstarting the U.S. corporate earnings season ona strong note could be another factor helping banks, Taylorsaid.

"It's very quiet Monday. Apart from a few earnings catalyststhrough the week, it looks like people are just largely sittingon the sidelines," he said.

Asian shares began the week with a positive tone after U.S.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he hoped thatthe United States and China were close to the final round ofnegotiations.

Adding to trade relief, Reuters reported that U.S.negotiators had tempered demands that China curb industrialsubsidies as a condition for a deal after strong resistance fromBeijing.

Compass GroupCPG.L was among the biggest weights onLondon's blue-chip index after Barclays downgraded shares of theworld's largest caterer to "equal-weight".

Dragging down the euro zone blue chips .STOXX50E index waspressured by Finland'sNokiaNOKIA.HE , down about 3 percent,after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell".

NestleNESN.S , trading without entitlement to its latestdividend pay-out, dragged down the food & beverages .SX3P index down 0.4 percent and pulled the Swiss SMI .SSMI indexinto the red.

EXPANDING OUTPUT

London-listed shares of Rio Tinto RIO.L weighed down basicresources .SXPP sector. The mining major announced plans toinvest an extra $302 million to develop its Resolution copperproject in the U.S. state of Arizona, as it looks to expandsoutput to meet the lucrative market for new energy vehicles.

Rio Tinto is due to release its production data for theMarch quarter later in the week.

Publicis PUBP.PA gained 3.4 percent even as the Frenchadvertising group said it would pay $4.4 billion to acquireAlliance Data's ADS.N Epsilon marketing unit, expanding itsdigital business and North American footprint.

Among top performers was Norsk HydroNHY.OL up 4.7 percentas the company's alumina refinery in Brazil, Alunorte, andBrazilian public prosecutors jointly petitioned a federal courtto lift a production embargo.

Daimler DAIGn.DE slipped on a report that Germany's motorvehicle authority KBA was investigating the carmaker onsuspicion that 60,000 Mercedes cars were fitted with softwareaimed at tricking emissions tests. A spokesman for Daimler,owner of Mercedes-Benz, said the carmaker was reviewing thefacts and fully cooperating with the KBA.

Italian media group MediasetMS.MI and its German rivalProSiebenSat.1 Media PSMGn.DE rose on merger speculation, evenafter both companies denied they were in talks.

VivendiVIV.PA gained after the French media conglomerateposted higher first-quarter revenue and said it was makingprogress on the planned sale of up to 50 percent of its UMGmusic arm.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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