LONDON — European stocks started the new trading week slightly higher on Monday.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by 0.2% provisionally, with autos gaining 1.3% as most sectors and major bourses climbed. Britain's FTSE 100 index bucked the positive trend in Europe, falling 0.2%
Shares in Asia-Pacific finished mixed Monday as investors in the region reacted to the latest Chinese growth data showing that its GDP rose 2.3% last year. That compared against economists expectations for GDP expansion by just over 2%.
Still, other data showed that retail sales in the country declined, contracting 3.9% for the year.
Markets in the U.S. were closed on Monday for a federal holiday. In Europe, the coronavirus pandemic and rollout of vaccinations continued to dominate headlines. The Netherlands saw several thousand people protest against lockdown measures on Sunday before they were dispersed by riot police.
Meanwhile, the U.K. continues to lead the pace when it comes to the rollout of vaccinations; on Monday, it is broadened out its program to offer a first dose of the vaccine to anyone aged 70 and over, and those who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable.
European investors also looked to Germany on Monday following the election on Saturday of Armin Laschet as the new chairman of the ruling CDU party. The move paves the way for him to possibly replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year.
In corporate news, the $52 billion merger between Fiat Chrysler-owner FCA and Peugeot-owner PSA Group was finalized over the weekend, creating the world's fourth-largest car manufacturer by volume. The new company, named Stellantis, will be headed up by former PSA CEO Carlos Tavares. Stellantis stock gained 7.6% on its first day of trading.
Carrefour shares fell by 6.9% after Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard dropped its takeover bid for Europe's largest retailer.
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