European Stocks Mainly Higher in Choppy Trade as Banks Log Gains

European equities were flip-flopping between gains and losses on Tuesday morning with mining stocks losing ground on falling commodities prices while banking stocks extended gains ahead of the countdown to Britain's referendum on European Union (EU) membership.

Britons will vote on Thursday on whether they would like the country to remain within the EU or exit, the latter scenario being dubbed "Brexit". With wide-reaching implications for global markets, recent polls have indicated that the final result will be very close. An ORB poll published by Britain's Telegraph newspaper after European markets had closed on Monday showed that 53% of respondents were in favour of remaining in the EU while 46% wanted a Brexit and 2% were undecided. The survey sampled 800 individuals.

Separate polls, conducted over the weekend and published on Sunday, have presented very close results. A YouGov poll conducted for The Times newspaper over the weekend, with a sample of 1,652 people, showed that 44% of respondents favoured a Brexit, 42% favoured remaining within the EU, 9% didn't know and 4% wouldn't vote.

Separately, Britain's Office of National Statistics (ONS) published its third provisional estimate of public sector finances in the UK for the full financial year ending March 2016. Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks decreased by £16.7 billion ($24.66 billion) to £74.9 billion in the full financial year ending March 2016 , compared to the previous financial year. This represents a £0.9 billion increase to the ONS' initial estimate of the full financial year's borrowing which was published in March.

In equities, the commodities-heavy FTSE 100 Index was being weighed down by mining losses. Anglo American, Randgold Resources, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, Fresnillo and BHP Billiton were 1.9%, 1.8%, 1.6%, 1.6%, 1.6% and 1.4% lower, respectively. Anglo American's decline comes the same day that Anglo American Platinum, in which it holds a majority stake, published a trading update in which it projected that earnings per share would be at least 20% lower in the six month period ended June 30 than in the comparative period last year.

Rio Tinto's declines come as the company unveiled a new organisational structure and new executive team and announced that its current Iron Ore chief executive, Andrew Harding, would leave the business on July 1. Gainers were led by hospitality company Whitbread, 3.2% higher after posting an 8% increase in its first quarter sales year-on-year. Tesco was advanced by 1.5% and Barclays was up by 2.0%.

On Frankfurt's DAX, gainers were led by electricity and natural gas supplier RWE, up by 2.3%, followed by pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer, 1.6% higher and Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, up by 1.5% and 0.7%, respectively. Decliners on the index were led by car-maker Volkswagen, 1.7% lower, followed by logistics company Deutsche Post and pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA, 0.1% lower.

And, on Paris' CAC-40, gainers were led by telecommunication and media company Bouygues, 1.5% higher, followed b financial services providers Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas, 1.5% and 1.0% higher, respectively. Decliners were led by tire maker Michelin (Compagnie Generale d'Etablissements Michelin), 0.6% lower, followed by car-maker Renault and oilfield services company Technip, both 0.1% lower.

London's FTSE 100 Index was 0.27% lower, Frankfurt's DAX was up by 0.07%, Paris' CAC-40 was 0.16% higher and the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.15% higher at at the time of writing.

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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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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