Europe News

European markets close higher as utility stocks lead gains; Air France-KLM soars 5.5%

Key Points
  • The Financial Times reported that French bank Societe Generale and Italian rival Unicredit were exploring the possibility of a merger.
  • French flag carrier Air France-KLM surged near the top of the European benchmark after AccorHotels said Sunday it was reviewing whether to buy a stake in the company.
  • Preliminary results showed that an anti-immigration party has won a parliamentary election that took place Sunday in EU member Slovenia.

European stocks closed higher Monday, amid a slew of corporate news about potential mergers and acquisitions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up 0.3 percent, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Europe's utility stocks led the gains Monday, up 1.4 percent. Italgas, Pennon Group and Iberdrola were among the top sectoral performers, all trading around 3 percent higher.

Meanwhile, the region's banking index was also trading higher following a week of political turmoil in Italy and Spain. The Financial Times reported French bank Societe Generale and Italian rival Unicredit were exploring the possibility of a merger. Shares of Societe Generale rose more than 1 percent while Unicredit's stock price fell 1 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, French flag carrier Air France-KLM surged near the top of the European benchmark after AccorHotels said Sunday it was reviewing whether to buy a stake in the company. AccorHotels reportedly said it had previously held discussions with Air France about the possibility to develop joint projects. Shares of Air France rose almost 5.5 percent, while AccorHotel slumped towards the bottom of the index — down almost 7 percent.

Anti-immigration party wins Slovenia election

On Wall Street, stocks rose, adding to gains seen in the previous session, as Apple led the technology sector to a record high.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank (CYBG) said on Sunday that it had upped its bid for challenger bank Virgin Money. The deal would create the U.K.'s sixth-largest lender. The takeover panel deadline for the deal is 5 p.m. London time Monday afternoon.

In European Union member Slovenia, preliminary results showed that an anti-immigration party has won a parliamentary election which took place Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about the euro zone in a newspaper interview published on Sunday, in which she supported some of French counterpart Emmanuel Macron's calls for more solidarity within the monetary union. The French government said on Sunday that the show of unity was a "positive move." But in the same interview Merkel also ruled out debt relief for Italy, saying that unity within the euro zone did not mean that it should become a debt-sharing bloc.