Markets

European markets close higher amid upbeat data; Brexit chaos rumbles on

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed higher on Tuesday, with most sectors and major bourses gaining in value.
  • British lawmakers came no nearer to resolving the chaos surrounding the country's departure from the European Union.
  • U.K. construction activity slowed for the second consecutive month in March, PMI figures showed on Tuesday.

European stocks ended higher on Tuesday, after stronger-than-anticipated factory activity surveys from the U.S. and China eased concerns over the global economy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index gained 0.36 percent, provisionally with sectors and major bourses largely in positive territory.

Europe's banking, auto and insurance sectors led the gains, lifted in part by Swedbank surging to the top of the European benchmark. Shares of the bank gained 6 percent on Tuesday after it was announced Swedish authorities would not investigate money-laundering claims made by investor Bill Browder.

Rolls Royce lost more than 1.2 percent after Singapore Airlines grounded two Boeing 787 jets because their engines, built by the British firm, were wearing out faster-than-expected.

French IT services provider Atos also slumped toward the bottom the index after Berenberg cut its stock recommendation to "sell" from "hold." Shares of the Paris-listed stock fell 2.05 percent on the news.

Elsewhere, U.K. construction activity slowed for the second consecutive month in March, PMI figures showed. Europe's construction and materials sector fell into negative territory on the back of the data, with London-listed construction firm Balfour Beatty losing half a percent.

Brexit drama

Market focus is largely attuned to economic data, after U.S. figures overnight showed improvements in manufacturing activity last month and construction spending in February.

The upbeat readings overshadowed disappointing retail sales figures and reinforced positive sentiment from China. The world's second-largest economy reported a surprising return to growth in its manufacturing sector on Monday.

Back in Europe, British lawmakers came no nearer to resolving the chaos surrounding the country's departure from the European Union. On Monday evening, British Parliament failed to secure a majority for any proposed alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

If nothing is passed in the House of Commons over the coming days, the world's fifth-largest economy is set to leave the bloc without a deal on April 12.