European markets as investors digest Chinese growth data

LONDON — European stocks nudged higher on Monday as investors digested a string of corporate news and the latest growth data out of China.

Credit Suisse shares were trading around 1.7% lower by 8.20 a.m. London time.

Elsewhere, Unilever said Monday that it viewed GSK’s consumer arm as a “strong strategic fit.” GSK confirmed this weekend that it had rejected a bid — thought to have been worth £50 billion ($68.4 billion) — for its consumer health division.

Unilever shares slipped 6% on Monday morning, while GSK rose by over 5%.

Investors were also keeping an eye on the latest Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers in Brussels. Speaking to CNBC from the event Monday, Pascal Donohoe, president of the Eurogroup and finance minister for Ireland, said the high level of inflation in the euro zone right now is not unexpected, given the scale of intervention needed to deal with the pandemic.

Data releases in Europe on Monday include Italy consumer price data for December and final inflation data for the euro zone in December.

China GDP

Numbers from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed the Chinese economy grew by 8.1% in 2021, slightly below the market’s expectation for around 8.4% growth for the year. In the fourth quarter, China’s GDP rose 4% from a year ago, topping a Reuters poll that predicted a 3.6% increase.

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Economists were concerned that Monday’s data could underline a slowdown in growth, in part due to factors like China’s strict measures to contain the omicron Covid variant as well as problems in its property sector and sluggish consumption.

Chinese shares rose Monday in a mixed trading session across the Asia-Pacific, with the Shanghai composite adding 0.32% while the Shenzhen component gained 0.89%.

U.S. markets are closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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— CNBC’s Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this market report.

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