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European markets closed mixed, autos slide; HSBC up almost 2%

European markets closed mixed on Monday with auto stocks leading declines after Germany said it was open to class action lawsuits against carmakers.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.13 percent lower with the auto sector the biggest faller amid an emissions cheating scandal. German lawmakers and automaker meet on Wednesday to discuss ways to improve pollution and restore the image of the sector. Volkswagen fell 1.4 percent, BMW slid 0.6 percent and Daimler dropped 1.2 percent.

Basic resources stocks - with their heavy exposure to China - were among the top performers on Monday, up by more than 0.4 percent. Chinese stocks surged on Monday after several leading companies forecast strong mid-year earnings and economic data showed growth. Mining giants BHP Billiton and Anglo American rose about 1 percent.

Europe's banking stocks also moved higher on Monday amid better-than-expected earnings. HSBC, Europe's largest bank, reported a set of financial results that beat estimates in the first half of 2017 and announced a $2 billion share buyback on the back of a growing capital base. Its shares were up almost 2 percent. Standard Chartered, with its exposure to emerging markets, was up by 2.1 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average hit a record high on Monday as Wall Street cheered on what's been a strong earnings season.

Euro zone core inflation up 1.3%

Euro zone inflation held steady in July although its core measure, a figure closely watched by the European Central Bank, edged up to a four-year high on Monday. Eurostat reported core inflation went up to 1.3 percent from 1.2 percent in June, contrary to market expectations of a slight drop to 1.1 percent.

Meantime, investors remained wary of geopolitical uncertainty on Monday after North Korea conducted another missile test late on Friday. Pyongyang said it had proved its ability to strike the U.S. mainland, prompting Washington to respond by flying two bombers over the Korean peninsula on Sunday.

Elsewhere, EU member states – excluding the U.K. - will have until the end of the day to submit bids for hosting the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA). The EMA and EBA headquarters – currently both based in London – will have to move away from the U.K. in the wake of Brexit, which is due to take effect by the end of March 2019.

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