- Stocks rise ahead of manufacturing data
- Market commentary downbeat on outlook for Ukraine
- Successful Spanish Treasury auction
- Nickel futures higher
FTSE -100: 1.00%
FTSE Mibtel 30: 0.68%
Ibex 35: 0.86%
Stoxx 600: 1.10%
European stocks were holding higher following a four-day break and ahead of a week in which the latest Chinese and Eurozone purchasing managers' indices for the manufacturing sector are expected to be the key events.
The Chinese numbers are due out tomorrow.
Acting as a backdrop, while travelling to Ukraine, US Vice-President Joe Biden pledged his support for the Eastern European country. Although some analysts are sanguine, market commentary is insisting that the agreement reached last Thursday to de-escalate the situation in the country is now in danger after pro-Russian militants refused to abandon the government buildings which they have occupied in various cities.
An auction of Spanish T-Bills held earlier in the morning saw solid demand, with the country's Treasury selling €3.06bn in debt, slightly ahead of the €3bn which Madrid had been targeting.
France's Finance Minister reportedly stated that the latest set of growth forecasts due to be unveiled tomorrow will be in-line with the latest set of recommendations from the European Union.
As an aside, the European Central Bank's (ECB) Benoit Coeure told Le Monde that the monetary authority has further room to cut rates, with some market commentary interpreting the remarks as a sort of reiteration of previous forward guidance from the ECB.
Notably, the US dollar/yen cross, widely accepted as a good gauge of risk appetite, rose overnight and was changing hands at 102.57 as of noon.
Three-month nickel futures were higher by 2% this morning on fears of disruptions to Ukrainian supplies.
Output in the Eurozone's construction sector grew by 0.1% month-on-month in February, while the previous month's percentage variation was revised higher by a tenth of a percentage point to 1.6%, Eurostat reported.
Figures on consumer confidence in the single currency area are set for release later in the day.
Healthcare stocks leading gains
From a sector standpoint, the best performance was being logged by companies in the following industrial groups: Healthcare (2.72%), Chemicals (1.63%) and Financial services (1.59%).
Swiss drug-maker Novartis will purchase Glaxo's (GSK) oncology products unit for an aggregate cash consideration of $16bn. In parallel, it will sell a part of its vaccines business to GSK for $7.1bn. It will also hive off animal health division to Eli Lilly for approximately $5.4bn.
Shares of Philips were plummeting by almost 7% in early trading after the lighting company unveiled first-quarter earnings which came in well below forecasts due to the strength seen in the single currency.
Under an agreement reached on Saturday, Fiat Chrysler will begin to produce Jeep vehicles in China with partner Guangzhou Automobile Group.
Crude futures edge higher
The euro/dollar was edging higher by 0.18% to 1.3820.
Front month Brent crude futures were off by 0.51% to the $109.38/barrel mark on the ICE.