European stocks end mostly lower on volatile oil prices

Monday, 21. March 2016 18:07

European stock markets closed mainly in the red territory on Monday, after opening higher. Oil prices kept rising from the start of the European trading day, but then seesawed in the afternoon. Weaker consumer confidence data for the EU didn't help either, and the euro was strengthening putting additional pressure on stock prices.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index edged down 0.02% to 9,948 points. The news that Monsanto was in talks with two chemical giants on either merger or acquisition of their segments helped shares of Bayer AG rise 3.26%, while the BASF SE added 0.69%. Henkel gained 0.55% as another indicator of strong chemical sector of the German industry. Energy companies were on the losing side: RWE AG slumped 3.50%, closely followed by E.ON's fall of 3.34%. Financial sector was hurt by 1% losses of Commerzbank AG and Deutsche Bank.

London's FSTE 100 echoed the sentiment, sliding 0.08% to 6,184 points. Shire Plc pharma company jumped 4.26%, and aerospace and defence Smiths Group added 1.35%. Mining sector weighed heavy on the index, with Antofagasta digging down 3.65%, and BHP Billiton lost 0.89%.

Across the Channel, the CAC 40 index lost 0.78% to close at 4,427 points. Steel giant ArcelorMittal dropped 3.97%, while Total slipped down 3.64%. Telecom operator Bouygues added 0.35%, while AXA rose 0.53% in an apparent approval of arrival of new chief executive Thomas Buberl. Airbus Group rose 0.46%.

Defying the trend, the Swiss Market Index rose 0.46% closing at 7,849 points. Pharmaceuticals were the winners: Novartis rose 1.93%, Actelion followed with a rise of 176% and Rosche climbed 1.07%. Transocean plunged 6.31%, and Swatch dropped 2.29%.

The euro was down 0.22% compared to the Swiss franc, slid 0.24% versus the U.S. dollar, but rose 0.41% versus the U.K. sterling.

Oil prices were rising earlier in the day, but diverged and prices of the two most traded blends evened by 6:00 p.m. CET. The international benchmark Brent rose 0.43% to $41.39 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate traded 0.53% higher at $41.38 a barrel.

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Breaking the News / ZR