European Markets Advance as Brexit Trade Deal Talks Continue
  • Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to keep negotiating over a Brexit trade deal, taking talks to the wire as key differences remain. Sterling bounced on the news, but U.K. Prime Minister still warned businesses to be ready for a “no-deal” exit on Dec. 31 when the transition period ends.
  • Germany will go into a full lockdown over the Christmas period amid a rise in coronavirus deaths and infections. Nonessential shops and schools will close across the country starting Wednesday.

LONDON — European stocks traded higher Monday as market focus remains on negotiations between the U.K. and EU on a post-Brexit trade deal.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.8% by mid-afternoon, with banks climbing 3% to lead gains as almost all sectors and major bourses remained in positive territory.

Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to keep negotiating over a Brexit trade deal, taking talks to the wire as key differences remain. Sterling bounced on the news, but U.K. Prime Minister still warned businesses to be ready for a “no-deal” exit on Dec. 31 when the transition period ends.

Johnson and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had said they would decide on Sunday whether there had been enough progress to merit talks continuing.

In other news, Germany will go into a full lockdown over the Christmas period amid a rise in coronavirus deaths and infections. Nonessential shops and schools will close across the country starting Wednesday.

“We maintain that friends, relatives and acquaintances can meet with a maximum of five people and two households and there is an exception only over the Christmas holidays from 24 to 26 December, but not on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this weekend.

In U.S. coronavirus developments, CDC Director Robert Redfield signed off on Pfizer’s  vaccine, allowing inoculations to officially move forward on Monday for people ages 16 or older. That came following the FDA emergency authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine last week. The U.S. has begun to ship the doses to hundreds of distribution centers across the country.

U.S. stock futures moved higher in early morning trade as markets indicated a rebound from a losing week. Investors have been weighing updates on the vaccine rollout as well as the coronavirus stimulus stalemate in Washington.

Meanwhile, stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly rose in Monday trade, as investors in the region reacted to the approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S.

Euro zone industrial production increased by 2.1% in October from the previous month, official statistics revealed Monday.

In terms of individual share price action, Spain’s Banco de Sabadell and British lender NatWest both climbed more than 7% to the top of the Stoxx 600, amid a broad rally for British banks on the back of the extension of Brexit talks.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, AstraZeneca shares dropped more than 7% after the announcement that the pharmaceutical giant had bought out Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39 billion.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said investors were seemingly nervous about the price of the acquisition, the largest in AstraZeneca’s history.

“Adding this new range of drugs to its portfolio has potential to significantly increase revenues, but it is still an expensive gamble,” Streeter said in an email Monday.

“It may also come with reputational risk, given the super-high price tag medicines for rare diseases command.”

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