Europe stocks close higher; Germany in fresh coalition talks; Mothercare down 27%

Key Points
  • European basic resources stocks lead gains, with the sector closing 1.63 percent higher on news of trade deals between France and China
  • Mothercare was down over 27 percent after profit warning
  • Hershey and Ferrero are racing to buy Nestle's U.S. candy business

European markets closed higher on Monday afternoon, following a firm lead by U.S. stocks in the previous session and as Germany looks closer to forming a new government.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.27 percent higher after hitting its highest level since August 2015 in the morning.

But of the major European bourses, the U.K. FTSE ended the day in the red, down 0.36 percent as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May reshuffled her cabinet.

Basic resources stocks led the gains, rallying over 1.5 percent by the end of Monday's trade. This follows news of trade deals between France and China. Airbus is trying to reach new deals with Beijing on the A380 as it works to get new customers. Efforts are part of a trade mission by President Emmanuel Macron during his first state visit to the Middle Kingdom.

Meanwhile, autos closed 0.89 percent higher having hovered around the 1 percent figure throughout the day as investors grew confident on the prospects of the sector in 2018.

Technology was the poorest performing sector, ending Monday's trade down 0.23 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Galapagos rose to near the top of European benchmark, up by about 4.5 percent after news of positive preliminary tests in an osteoarthritis study.

Dialog Semiconductor shares swung to the downside in afternoon trade, closing 0.8 percent lower despite having recovered some losses. In fact, the chipmaker had begun the day in positive territory after preliminary fourth-quarter sales numbers came in above expectations. Dialog's fortunes are dependent on the custom of technology giant Apple, its largest client, who may be developing its own chips.

On the other hand, Micro Focus was the worst performing stock on the index, trading nearly 17 percent lower after saying its pretax profit for the first half of its fiscal year was boosted by the acquisition of Hewlett Packard Enterprises.

Meanwhile, shares of Mothercare fell over 27 percent after the retailer issued a profit warning.

More broadly, positive global sentiment continues to drive European stocks. On Friday, the Dow set a new record for the best start to a year since 2006.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany sounded optimistic about reaching a deal with the Social Democrats and thus avoiding fresh elections.

In the corporate world, Hershey and Ferrero are racing to buy Nestle's U.S. candy business.

Across the pond, U.S. stocks fell as investors took a breather from the rally that kicked off in 2018. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped by 38 points, while the S&P 500 withdrew by 0.1 percent.