Europe Markets

European markets close mostly higher; Credit Suisse slides 16% on profit warning

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Key Points
  • Markets were buoyed by news that the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal, the Ever Given, has been refloated.
  • But concerns over a third wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe kept a lid on gains.
  • Credit Suisse plunged roughly 14% after warning of a "highly significant" hit to its first-quarter results.

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LONDON — European stocks closed mostly higher on Monday, though gains were capped by concerns over a third wave of the coronavirus hitting the continent.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by about 0.2%, with food and beverages adding 1.5% to lead gains while financial services stocks fell 1.9%.

Markets were buoyed in part by news that the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal, the Ever Given, has been refloated and is on the move again.

The vessel is one of the largest container ships in the world and became stuck last Tuesday after running aground while entering the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, holding up many other cargo ships in the process.

But concerns over a third wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe kept a lid on gains. German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested the federal government could wrest some control from certain states to contain the crisis. This comes despite a U-turn from Merkel on plans to implement a strict Easter lockdown.

In France, critical care doctors have warned that soaring infections could soon overwhelm Paris hospitals and force them to choose which patients they have the resources to treat.

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The number of ICU Covid patients in France hits new high as doctors call for more restrictions

While mainland Europe struggles with a rise in cases, the U.K further eased its lockdown measures Monday, with Brits now able to gather in groups of up to six people outdoors. The "stay at home" rule has also come to an end, but people are advised to continue working from home if possible.

On Wall Street, stocks fell Monday amid weakness in bank shares caught in the downdraft of Friday's margin call. Shares of ViacomCBS and Discovery fluctuated after coming under intense selling pressure last week. The two companies were believed to be hit by forced liquidation of positions held by the multibillion dollar family office Archegos Capital Management.

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Stocks on the move

Credit Suisse plunged roughly 14% on Monday morning after warning of a "highly significant" hit to its first-quarter results. The Swiss lender said it began exiting positions with a large U.S. hedge fund that defaulted on margin calls last week.

Credit Suisse said a number of other banks were also affected and had begun exiting their positions with the unnamed firm.

Other major European banks, including UBS and Deutsche Bank, also took a tumble Monday.

Toward the top of the European blue chip index, Cellnex Telecom climbed nearly 5% after Singapore wealth fund GIC agreed to buy a 2.5% stake in the Spanish wireless company.

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- CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.