Europe Markets

European stocks close flat as Trump signals US-China trade talks will resume

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 was little changed at the closing bell on Monday. 
  • The U.S.-China trade rift clouded the G-7 summit in France.
  • Trump says Beijing expressed it was ready to return to the negotiating table.

European stocks closed flat on Monday, after U.S. President Donald Trump said China had called U.S. trade negotiators to resume talks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was just above the flatline at the closing bell, with China-exposed autos stocks leading gains on a 1% climb. Healthcare stocks were the worst performers, falling 0.4%. U.K. markets were closed due to a bank holiday.

Speaking to reporters on Monday at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Biarritz, France, Trump said China had expressed a desire to resume discussions over a potential trade deal.

"China called last night our top trade people and said 'let's get back to the table' so we will be getting back to the table and I think they want to do something," Trump said. "They have been hurt very badly but they understand this is the right thing to do and I have great respect for it. This is a very positive development for the world."

In the U.S., stocks traded higher on the back of Trump's comments.

Sentiment was shaken in the previous session as China announced plans to impose additional tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods, which was followed by President Donald Trump ordering American firms to find an "alternative" to operating in China.

Trump said his administration would raise existing duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese products to 30% from 25% on October 1, while levies on another $300 billion in Chinese goods, which will start to take effect on September 1, will now be 15% instead of 10%.

The trade rift between the world's two largest economies has clouded the meeting of world leaders, with Trump claiming he "could declare a national emergency" over the issue.

Another big talking point at the G-7 was France's plans to hit tech giants — including Facebook, Amazon and Google — with a 3% so-called "digital tax," which has drawn the ire of Trump. The U.S. leader had previously threatened to tax French wine in response, but he said at the summit on Monday that the United States was close to reaching a compromise on France's digital services levy.

In terms of data, Munich's Ifo Institute said that German business morale fell in August, with its business climate index coming in at 94.3, versus an expected 95.1. There are fears Germany could be headed for a recession after gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1% in the second quarter. A recession is typically marked two consecutive quarters of contraction, as well as general decline in economic activity.

Looking at individual stocks, Germany's Deutsche Wohnen slumped 3% following reports on details of a planned rent cap in Berlin.

Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Store Nord fell to the bottom of the Stoxx 600, with shares down 4.8% at the end of the session.

At the top of the European blue chip index, shares of airline Lufthansa were up by 2.7%.