European stocks close lower amid tense Russia relations; Fresnillo up 4.5%; Smurfit Kappa down 3%

  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.77 percent lower provisionally, with most sectors and major bourses finishing in negative territory.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Beijing and Washington had begun to quietly negotiate U.S. access to Chinese markets.
  • A number of European countries expelled Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the U.K.

European stocks closed lower Monday, after the U.S. and several European Union nations expelled Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the U.K.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.77 percent lower provisionally, with most sectors and major bourses finishing in negative territory. This despite the market opening higher and U.S. markets seeing strong gains, after a week session on Friday.

Italian stocks were the standout fallers. The FTSE MIB closed down 1.2 percent lower after an uneasy truce between the country's two populist, anti-establishment parties on Friday.

EU nations expel Russian diplomats

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Beijing and Washington had begun to quietly negotiate U.S. access to Chinese markets, easing concerns of a full-blown trade war. Stocks initially showed signs of a rally earlier in the session following the news.

But equities pared gains sharply after the U.S. and multiple EU nations moved to expel Russian diplomats on Monday. The move follows hot on the heels of the U.K.'s decision to expel Russian diplomats after the country determined that the Kremlin was responsible for the poisoning of an ex-spy on British soil.

Looking at individual stocks, Fresnillo surged to the top of the European benchmark after a ratings upgrade from Goldman Sachs. The U.S. investment bank raised its stock recommendation to "buy" and added the stock to its conviction list. Shares of Fresnillo closed 4.5 percent higher.

Meanwhile, Smurfit Kappa said it had rejected a revised bid from International Paper company, on Monday. The U.S. company had previously made an unsolicited offer at the beginning of March. Shares of Smurfit Kappa closed down more than 3 percent.

Trade war fears ease

Stateside, stocks traded higher, bouncing back from strong losses in the previous session as investors monitored reports of talks between the U.S. and China.

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Friday that could see charges implemented on up to $60 billion of imports from Beijing, though the measures have a 30-day consultation period before they take effect.

The tariffs follow additional duties on steel and aluminum imports on a number of countries worldwide, including China, with the world's second-largest economy hitting back with its own plans to impose charges on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports.