Europe Markets

European markets close higher; Amec Foster up 11.6%; Fed, Brexit, Dutch election eyed


European markets closed higher on Monday as political uncertainty dominated and traders geared up for a likely rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.38 percent higher with major bourses and almost all sectors in positive territory. Basic Resources stocks led the gains, up by 2.8 percent, although telecoms moved slightly lower.

Shares of U.K. engineering firm Amec Foster jumped 11.6 percent on Monday after reaching a deal to be acquired by John Wood Group for £2.23 billion. If the deal goes through, it would become the U.K.'s largest energy services company. Shares of the John Wood climbed 1.3 percent as a result.

House builders rose after the U.K.'s Bovis Group received a merger proposal from rival Galliford Try. Shares of Bovis rose more than 8.9 percent while Bellway and Taylor Wimpey rose 1.3 and 0.8 percent respectively.

Elsewhere, the food business Aryzta dropped over 2.3 percent on Monday after posting an underlying net profit down by 22.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 both continued under pressure on Monday as traders eyed a probable interest rate hike later in the trading week.

Fed, Brexit, oil prices

Investors believe that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates when its members gather this Wednesday, this follows a strong U.S. jobs report on Friday.

Furthermore, investors will also be focused on several political events in Europe this week. The U.K. could press the start button on Brexit negotiations, after a vote in the Houses of Commons and Lords. Prime Minister Theresa May has previously stated that she would begin talks with the EU by the end of March.

Sticking with Brexit, the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced she would begin proceedings to initiate a second referendum on independence sometime between fall next year and spring 2019. Sturgeon argued the language of partnership from the U.K. had "gone completely" when it came to Scotland's views on Britain's divorce from the EU.

Elsewhere, Dutch voters will choose their next government on Wednesday amid rising anti-EU sentiment. The election is setting the scene for several votes taking place in Europe later this year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is traveling to the U.S. on Monday. Meanwhile, data released in Italy showed a contraction in industrial output of 2.3 percent on the month in January - a greater fall than analysts had projected.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi urged euro zone governments to address weak productivity growth and increase spending into research and education as he addressed a conference in Frankfurt on Monday.

In commodity markets, oil prices continued to fall on Monday after hitting a three-month low last week.

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