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European markets close lower as euro jumps; Provident up 22%

  • European markets closed lower as the euro went up
  • Monday marks the kickoff of the U.K. and European Union's third round of Article 50 negotiations
  • The euro was at a two-and-half year high against the dollar

European markets closed lower on Monday as the euro hit a two-and-a-half year high and investors kept a close eye on the moves in oil.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.5 percent lower with most sectors moving south. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 is closed on Monday due to a public holiday.

Basic resources was the worst-performing sector as investors digested the impact of Hurricane Harvey in the U.S., which destroyed many refineries and some crude production. Oil prices recovered slightly at lunchtime European trading time after earlier losses. Brent was trading at $51.86 and WTI was being sold at $46.74.

Provident was once again at the top of the European benchmark, ending the day up by 22 percent. The stock has been recovering some of its value after having lost 66 percent at the start of last week on news that its chief executive Peter Crook was leaving the firm.

Altice, the French telecoms group, announced a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) share buyback program and said it is considering takeover opportunities.

In currency markets, the euro was at a two-and-half year high against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi delivered two speeches last week giving no indications about the bank's next steps for monetary policy.

Stateside, U.S. stocks opened higher and shares of oil refinery companies rose on Monday after Hurricane Harvey forced refiners in Houston to shut down.

At the Jackson Hole meeting on Friday, President Draghi only said that protectionist policies could pose a "serious risk" to the global economy's growth, yet added that the global economic recovery looked like it was firming up. At the same time, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that while actions made by regulators following the crisis had made the financial system safer, some modifications to regulations could still be required.

Brexit resumes

Monday marks the kickoff of the U.K. and European Union's (EU) third round of Article 50 negotiations, where officials are set to meet in Brussels.

Earlier this year, Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said that the third round of talks must be about "clarification" in terms of where the U.K. stands on certain issues, including financial settlements.

The U.K. however is expected to advise the EU to show imagination and flexibility in the upcoming talks, and focus on the two regions' future ties instead of a settlement concerning the U.K.'s exit bill and other divorce dilemmas, Reuters reported.

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No major earnings were released on Monday. On the data front, Italian consumer confidence reached its highest level in almost six years. Official data saw the index of economic sentiment up to 107 from 105.6 in August - the highest number on record since November of 2011.

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