Hopes of Russia-Ukraine solution emerge


LONDON — European markets were choppy on Monday despite some hope emerging for a diplomatic solution to Russia-Ukraine tensions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.4% by late morning, having traded as much as 0.6% higher at the start of the session. Tech stocks dropped 1.8% as most sectors and major bourses slid into the red.

U.S. President Joe Biden has accepted “in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, paving the way for last-ditch diplomatic efforts to avert an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday evening that if Moscow does not launch an invasion in the coming days, the summit would take place following a scheduled meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday as investors continued to monitor the situation surrounding Ukraine, while China left its benchmark lending rate unchanged. Markets in the United States are closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, having dropped sharply on Friday as global markets were roiled by rising tensions in eastern Europe.

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In corporate news, Credit Suisse said on Sunday that it “strongly rejects” allegations published following a coordinated global media investigation into a mass leak of its client data over previous decades. The leaked information was purported to contain human rights abusers and businessmen under sanctions.

The Swiss lender said the information published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and 46 other news organizations was based on “partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context.”

Shares of Swedish real estate company SBB jumped 15% in early trade to lead the Stoxx 600, Dutch chip firm BE Semiconductor fell 6%.

On the data front, IHS Markit’s flash euro area composite PMI (purchasing managers’ index) reading, seen as a reliable gauge of overall economic health, came in at a five-month high of 55.8 in February despite record rises in consumer prices.

The figure significantly outpaced the 52.7 forecast in a Reuters poll and the 52.3 seen in January.

The U.K.’s composite PMI came in at an eight-month high of 60.2 in February, up from 54.2 in January and well above forecasts.

The strength of the readings raises expectations that central banks will need to hike rates more sharply than previously anticipated as inflation continues to soar.

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