Europe Markets

Europe stocks close higher after China data meets expectations; Galapagos up 18%

Key Points
  • Chinese second-quarter GDP data showed the country's economy grew at its slowest pace in 27 years.
  • Iran says it's ready to hold talks with the U.S. if Washington drops sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

European stocks returned to positive territory Monday afternoon, during a choppy session amid worries China's economy is slowing due to a trade war with the U.S.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 rebounded from early losses to trade provisionally 0.48% higher by the close. Telecoms stocks fell 0.7% while Autos led gains with 0.84% rise.

Traders kept a close watch on the latest economic figures out of China. The country posted second-quarter figures on Monday that showed its economy grew 6.2% in the second-quarter, at its slowest pace in 27 years. Still, China's GDP (gross domestic product) growth was in line with expectations, and data for industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment came in above analyst expectations.

Chinese stocks got a boost from the fresh data, with the Shanghai composite climbing 0.76% and the Shenzhen composite up 1.26%. MSCI's broadest index of Asian shares outside Japan rose 0.26%.

Elsewhere, geopolitical tensions continued to rumble on in the background. Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that the country was ready to hold talks with the U.S., on the condition that Washington drops sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo poured cold water on Rouhani's proposal, stating it would lead the Trump administration down a similar path to former President Barack Obama's administration, which helped bring about the agreement.

European leaders are scrambling to save the nuclear deal, with U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt telling reporters in Brussels on Monday that the deal "isn't dead yet."

Meanwhile, in the backdrop to simmering trade tensions, China's foreign ministry spokesman has threatened to ban any U.S. firm involved in selling arms to Taiwan from doing business in China.

Italy's business outlook improved more sharply than that of any other country in the four months to June, according to a global survey released on Monday which offers signs of hope for the country's struggling economy.

In terms of individual stocks, Belgian-Dutch biotech firm Galapagos saw its shares leap more than 18.3% to a record high, after U.S.-based Gilead Sciences announced an additional $5.1 billion stake in the company.

At the other end of the European blue chip index, British software business Micro Focus slipped around 6% after its executive chairman sold £11.6 million ($14.6 million) in shares.

Shares of drinks giant AB InBev were down around 0.6% after it shelved plans for an Asian stock market listing.