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Europe ends mixed as investors digest political news; Lafargeholcim, Aegon jump over 6%

Markets in Europe ended on a mixed note Monday, as investors kept a close eye on President Donald Trump's first visit overseas, while digesting individual stock news.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fluctuated between gains and losses throughout trade, ending down 0.09 percent provisionally. Sectors pointed in opposite directions at the close.

A trader works at the BFAM Partners Ltd. office in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, May 9, 2016.
Justin Chin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

On the bourses front, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended in the black, up 0.34 percent, boosted by slight weakness in the British pound.

France's CAC 40 failed to hold onto gains, closing 0.03 percent down, while Germany's DAX ended 0.15 percent lower, with a sharp decline in Dialog Semiconductor's shares weighing on the index. In peripheral Europe, Italy's FTSE MIB closed 1.15 percent down.

On Monday, telecoms were Europe's top performing sector, closing up more than 1 percent. This followed news that Softbank and Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund raised $93 billion to invest in technology, including artificial intelligence and robotics.

In chemicals, Clariant was one of the biggest talked-about stocks on Monday after the Swiss group announced an all-stock deal to merge with the U.S.-based Huntsman Corp., creating a chemicals giant worth over $14 billion. Despite rising as much as 9 percent in earlier trade, Clariant pared some of its gains to close up 3.45 percent.

The manufacturing company Lafargeholcim appointed Jan Jenisch as its new chief executive officer, which sent the company's shares over 6 percent higher.

Insurer Aegon ended trade at the top of the STOXX 600, finishing 6.5 percent up, after agreeing to sell some of its U.S. business to boost its balance sheet.

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By contrast, shares of the biopharma firm UCB tanked 18 percent, causing the health-care sector to close in the red. This follows news that a new osteoporosis drug trial had a higher rate of serious heart-related side-effects.

Elsewhere, oil prices were higher on Monday, on the back of hopes that leading exporters would agree to extend the output cut - as OPEC members gear up for a meeting in Vienna this Thursday. Despite paring some gains near Europe's close, Brent remained higher at $54 per barrel, while U.S. crude was hovering around $50.78.

On the agenda: Trump and Europe

After spending the weekend in Saudi Arabia, President Trump began the next leg of his trip abroad, arriving in Israel on Monday where he is expected to meet the leaders of both Israel and Palestine during his visit.

Trump will then go on to meet NATO members in Brussels later this week. According to the Wall Street Journal, the heads of state will back Trump's call for higher spending on defense.

Meanwhile, euro zone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels Monday - a gathering that could include some talk on debt relief for Greece.

Sticking with Europe, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier stated Monday that he expected initial talks with the U.K. - on the terms of the country's exit from the bloc - to begin on the week starting June 19; Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, Germany and France's finance ministers agreed to set up a working group, that would come up with strategies on creating a deeper, more integrated euro zone.

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