European stocks fell Monday, as investors clung to hopes that diplomacy will prevali over an increasingly tense Russia-Ukraine crisis. Technology stocks led the downside on the heels of sharp losses for that sector in the U.S. on Friday.
The Stoxx Europe index
fell 0.2% to 4,057, after a near 1.9% drop last week, which was the biggest weekly fall since late January. The German DAX
was modestly higher, while the FTSE 100 index
rose 0.3% and the French CAC 40
Wall Street trading will be closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. But stock futures were ceding earlier stronger ground, while havens such gold
pared losses, after a Kremlin spokesman said no concrete plans for a summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had been made.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said late Sunday that a meeting between the two leaders had been agreed “in principle,” provided Russia does not invade Ukraine.
While U.S. officials confirmed this, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that it was “premature to talk about specific plans for a summit.” He told reporters that a meeting was possible if “leaders consider it feasible.”
Hopes for peace talks sent U.S. futures surging late Sunday and into Monday, following a weekend of rising tensions after Russia reneged on a pledge to pull tens of thousands of troops from neighboring Belarus when military exercises conclude.
U.S. officials said Sunday that they believe Russia will attack Ukraine, based on intelligence that field commanders have been given final to prepare for an attack. The U.S. and Western allies have vowed tough sanctions on Russia should it go ahead with that invasion.
“The tentative summit between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the US’s Joe Biden might be one of the last chances for peace. At stake is the defense cooperation between Ukraine and Western countries and other security measures sought by Russia,” said Sebastian Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
Back in Europe, economic data showed the IHS/Markit eurozone PMI composite survey rising to a five-month high of 55.8 in February.
“At the same time, soaring energy costs and rising wages have added to inflationary pressures, resulting in the largest rise in selling prices yet recorded in a quarter of a century of survey data history,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, in a note to clients.
Shares of Credit Suisse
fell 1.2% after media reports emerged citing leaked information on more than 18,000 accounts managed by the bank that had allegedly been involved in human rights abuses, corruption and drug trafficking.
“Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and insinuations about the bank’s purported business practices,” the Swiss bank said in a statement on Monday. “The matters presented are predominantly historical, in some cases dating back as far as the 1940s, and the accounts of these matters are based on partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context.”
Shares of BE Semiconductors
slumped 6% following the semiconductor assembly equipment’s results late Friday, which showed falling revenue and orders amid supply chain problems. The company proposed a 95.9% hike in its dividend for 2022 compared with 2020, of €3.33 per share.
On the gainer’s side, shares of AstraZeneca
climbed 1.6% after the pharmaceutical giant said Phase 3 trial results for its Enhertu treatment on breast cancer patient showed meaningful survival improvement in patients compared with chemotherapy.
“Today’s historic news from DESTINY-Breast04 could reshape how breast cancer is classified and treated. A HER2-directed therapy has never-before shown a benefit in patients with HER2-low metastatic breast cancer,” said Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president for Oncology R&D.
Elsewhere, shares of Synairgen slumped 80% after the U.K. drug-discovery company said a Phase 3 trial of its inhaled treatment for COVID-19 failed to meet its primary or key secondary efficacy endpoints.