U.S. Markets closed

Europe finishes on a positive note; RBS leaps 6.8% while Unilever sinks 6.5%

Silvia Amaro
DANIEL ROLAND | AFP | Getty Images. European markets inched higher in afternoon trade on Monday as investors eyed earnings, and fresh economic data.

European markets finished Monday trade mostly higher, after investors digested a raft of earnings and economic data, while remaining watchful for any more details from U.S. President Donald Trump regarding his economic policies.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) closed up 0.22 percent, after wavering during afternoon trade.

When it came to major bourses, Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) led the gains, closing up 0.6 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) finished little changed and France's CAC 40 (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) was off 0.05 percent.

Telecoms were one of the best performers in Europe, closing up 1.14 percent as a sector on Monday. The sector was lifted following reports that Softbank (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 9984.T-JP) was ready to cede control of Sprint to Deutsche Telecom's T-Mobile US. Deutsche Telecom (XETRA:DTE-DE) closed up 2.5 percent.

RBS (London Stock Exchange: RBS-GB), however, took the crown for the STOXX 600's best performing stock, jumping 6.8 percent by the close after it scrapped plans to sell Williams and Glyn, Reuters reported.

On the other hand, Unilever (London Stock Exchange: ULVR-GB) slumped to the bottom of the STOXX 600, ending the day down 6.56 percent, after news Sunday that Kraft Heinz had withdrawn its bid.

Earnings season continued to deliver results on Monday, with Bovis Homes (London Stock Exchange: BVS-GB) revealing that its full-year pre-tax profit had dropped last year, adding that it would build fewer homes in 2017. Its shares dropped almost 11 percent, before paring some losses to close down 10.2 percent.

Other U.K. property stocks also under-performed during the session, with Berkeley Group (London Stock Exchange: BKG-GB), Barratt Development (London Stock Exchange: BDEV-GB) and Taylor Wimpey (London Stock Exchange: TW.-GB) all finishing in negative territory.

Plastics maker Covestro (XETRA:1COV-DE) said Monday it intended to divest, after reporting bigger-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter. Shares dropped to close down more than 4 percent.

U.K. manufacturers saw their order books grow at their most robust pace in over two years in February, according to CBI's monthly report. The industry survey found that the decline in the value of the pound since the Brexit referendum vote had caused prices to pick up sharply.

Euro area finance ministers were meeting in Brussels to discuss the Greek bailout program on Monday. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addressed senior officials in Belgium to stress the new administration was looking to deepen the relationship between the U.S. and the EU.

On the oil front, Brent and WTI ticked higher during trade, last standing at $56.15 and $53.66 at Europe's close.

The latest consumer confidence figures for the euro zone were also released on Monday, revealing that euro zone consumer morale fell to minus 6.2 percent during February, compared to minus 4.8 for January; data from the European Commission showed.

Elsewhere, U.S. markets remained closed on Monday, for Presidents Day holiday; while markets in Asia finished mostly higher .

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