European stocks close slightly higher as traders digest earnings


LONDON — European stocks eked out small gains Monday, as investors continued to monitor corporate earnings, Covid-19 and the inflation picture.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by 0.2% provisionally, with most major bourses in positive territory. Among sectors, auto companies led the gains, climbing 2.5%.

On Wall Street, stocks churned between gains and losses as investors prepared for a major week of earnings from heavyweight tech companies. Facebook, which is due to report Monday, has faced a flood of negative press coverage lately amid several bombshell leaks from whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Haugen said at a U.K. Parliament hearing Monday that Facebook was “closing the door” on regulators being able to act on the spread of hate speech and other harmful content on the platform.

Over in Asia, meanwhile, shares were also mixed on Monday as HSBC posted a better-than-expected third-quarter pre-tax profit, which jumped 75.8% from a year ago to $5.4 billion.

Investors also monitored the stock of embattled property developer China Evergrande Group, which whipsawed after the firm announced Sunday that it had resumed work on more than 10 projects. The company last week appeared to sidestep default through a last-minute bond coupon payment.

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Back in Europe, the Italian government on Sunday ended talks with UniCredit over the rescue of commercial bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena. The breakdown draws a line under multi-year efforts by the government to privatize the ailing Tuscan bank.

On the data front, Germany’s Ifo Institute business climate survey showed supply chain problems weighing on Europe’s largest economy in October. The Ifo Business Climate Index, published Monday, fell to 97.7 this month from 98.9 in September, with companies increasingly pessimistic across services, manufacturing and trade.

Global investors also continue to track inflation, which has risen sharply around the world as spiking energy prices and supply chain bottlenecks converge, sending euro zone inflation to a 13-year high in September.

In terms of individual share price movement in Europe, Exor climbed 4.6% after a report that the holding group had restarted discussions with French insurer Covea over the possible sale of reinsurer PartnerRe.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Nordic Semiconductor fell 6%.

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