BUSINESS: Investors look for further lockdown easing with European markets closing higher

AGENCIES |NCBC – European markets closed higher Monday as investors await central bank meetings this week that could decide further stimulus measures to reboot economies deeply damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed up by 1.6%, with autos adding 4.6% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses traded in positive territory.

Investors in Europe are watching how the region gradually exits lockdown strategies that have crippled economies in Europe. Central bank meetings this week are also in focus as further stimulus measures could be announced.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a two-day meeting starting Tuesday this week and the European Central Bank (ECB) meets Thursday.

Stocks in Asia Pacific rose on Monday, with the Bank of Japan due to kick off its monetary policy meeting. Investors are watching for policy moves from the central bank to grapple with the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The total number of coronavirus infection cases around the world is now more than 2.98 million and at least 207,431 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. has the most reported infections, with more than 965,933 cases in the country and over 54,800 deaths, Hopkins data showed.

On Wall Street, stocks rose amid hopes for a reopening of the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 300 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were also positive.

Earnings in focus

Corporate earnings remain high on the trading agenda in Europe. Deutsche Bank shares surged 12.7% after the German lender said it expects to report net income of 66 million euros ($71.56 million) for the first quarter of 2020, compared with 201 million euros in the first quarter of 2019.

Adidas on Monday predicted that sales will fall by 40% in the second quarter, as the impact of the coronavirus takes hold.

The German sportswear giant on Monday reported a 19% decline in net sales for the first quarter from the year before. Adidas shares were marginally higher.

German pharmaceutical company Bayer saw its shares gain over 5% after the coronavirus pandemic pushed its first-quarter sales and earnings higher.

Anglo-German travel firm Tui jumped more than 14% to lead the Stoxx 600, while Swedish-Danish vegetable oil producer AAK slid over 8% to the bottom of the European benchmark.

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