LONDON — European stocks were muted on Monday morning, reflecting mixed sentiment in Asia-Pacific markets overnight as investors monitored rising Covid-19 around the globe.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 hovered around the flatline in early trade, with travel and leisure stocks dropping 1.8% while chemicals added 0.6%.
The muted start to the week for Europe echoes similar sentiment elsewhere; stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Monday trade after official data showed that China’s industrial profits for May slowed.
Data released Sunday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed profits at China’s industrial firms rose 36.4% in May as compared with a year earlier. That was a slowdown from the 57% year-on-year growth posted in April.
Meanwhile, futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes rose modestly early Monday morning after the S&P 500 notched its best week since February, as well as a new record, on Friday.
Stocks posted their best week in months on Friday as investors grew more relaxed about inflation, seeing the current price acceleration in the U.S. not as a sustained economic threat, but as a temporary uptick.
The World Health Organization on Friday urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks as the highly contagious delta variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly throughout the globe, leading many countries to re-impose tighter restrictions.
In the U.K. Monday, new Health Secretary Sajid Javid will update lawmakers on when the U.K. can expect to ease Covid-19 measures further. Covid restrictions are currently due to end on July 19, the date already having been extended due to the spread of the delta variant.
In corporate news, Daimler is on track to spin off its truck unit by the end of the year, its Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm told German publication Automobilwoche in a report published Sunday.
Meanwhile Dutch insurer NN Group announced Sunday that it had offered to acquire some of MetLife‘s businesses in Europe, though the size of the offer and the specific businesses targeted remain undisclosed.
Oil prices briefly notched highs last seen in October 2018 on Monday ahead of the OPEC+ meeting this week and as the U.S. and Iran remain at odds over the revival of the nuclear deal, halting an expected spike in Iranian exports.
In terms of individual share price movement, Finnish telecoms giant Nokia climbed more than 6% in early trade to lead the Stoxx 600 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock.
At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British fashion brand Burberry slumped more than 7% after announcing that CEO Marco Gobbetti will depart to take the top job at Italian luxury goods company Ferragamo.
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– CNBC’s Thomas Franck and Eustance Huang contributed reporting to this story.