Europe Markets

European stocks close mainly lower as investors eye Brexit battle and stimulus hopes

Key Points
  • Brexit remains in focus with opposition lawmakers reportedly due to request an emergency debate on Monday in a bid to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to adhere to a new law forcing him to seek an extension from Brussels if no deal can be agreed before October 31.
  • Market mood is cautiously hopeful of likely stimulus from central banks to support growth in the world's major economies, after data releases last week showed further signs of struggle. 

European stocks closed lower on average Monday as investors monitor ongoing political chaos in the U.K. and cautious hopes for policy stimulus from the world's major economies after a series of weak data releases.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished provisionally 0.29% below the flatline, auto stocks adding 2 % to lead gains while the food and beverage sector slid 1.7%.

British newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported late on Sunday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has prepared a legal strategy to counter opposition lawmakers' attempts to enforce a three month extension to the U.K.'s Brexit deadline if no deal is agreed by October 31.

Meanwhile opposition parliamentarians are due to request an emergency debate on Monday in a bid to force the government to publish a no-deal Brexit planning document and make Johnson adhere to the new law blocking a no-deal departure, ITV news has reported.

The five-week suspension of parliament will begin later on Monday, after lawmakers are again expected to reject the government's efforts to trigger a snap election on October 15, instead insisting that the law blocking no-deal be implemented first.

The prime minister met his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar on Monday to discuss the controversial issue of the Irish "backstop," the major source of disagreement between Britain and the EU on the existing Withdrawal Agreement.

Stocks in Asia traded mostly higher Monday afternoon as a series of recent weak data releases in major economies, including the U.S. and China, raised expectations of monetary stimulus from central banks. Mainland Chinese stocks led gains with the Shenzhen composite and Shenzhen component each gaining more than 1%.

Stocks on the move

In terms of individual stocks, Danske Bank led the Stoxx 600 with a 9% climb, while fellow Scandinavian banks Swedbank and Nordea Bank also gained more than 5%.

German media company Prosiebensat1 climbed 5% after UBS upgraded the stock from neutral to buy and raised its target price.

At the other end of the European blue chip index, Air France KLM shares fell 9.7% after the publication of the airline's traffic figures for August, which came in weaker than expected.