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European markets edge higher; Credit Suisse slips 1.7% as chairman resigns

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

The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.3% in early trade, with basic resources climbing 0.75% to lead gains, while household goods slipped 0.7%.

Markets in Europe and Asia Pacific were digesting the latest gross domestic product data from China on Monday, with official data showing the world’s second largest economy grew faster than expected between October and December.

In Europe, meanwhile, two bits of corporate news dominated headlines.

Credit Suisse became embroiled in yet another scandal as its chairman, Antonio Horta-Osorio, resigned after breaking coronavirus quarantine rules. Horta-Osorio had been tasked with overseeing the bank’s new strategy following a string of issues, including the meltdown of U.S. family hedge fund Archegos Capital and the collapse of British supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.

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. 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.

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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