European Markets Head for Higher Open as Brexit Trade Deal Talks Continue
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up over 0.4%, with banks climbing 1.5% to lead gains as most 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.
  • Germany will go into a full lockdown over the Christmas period, while London is set to enter England’s toughest tier of restrictions.

LONDON — European stocks closed 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 closed up over 0.4%, with banks climbing 1.5% to lead gains as most sectors and major bourses remained in positive territory. The U.K.’s FTSE 100, however, dipped 0.2%

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.

And London will enter England’s toughest tier of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, after the U.K. government identified a new variant of the virus that may be linked with the faster spread of cases in southern England.

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.

On Wall Street, stocks rose amid investor optimism over the vaccine rollout and as Washington appeared to edge closer to hatching some sort of stimulus this week.

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, Natwest, Lloyds and Barclays all climbed more than 4% amid a broad rally for British banks on the back of ongoing Brexit talks.

Toward the bottom of the European blue chip index, AstraZeneca shares dropped nearly 6% 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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