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European stocks higher as insurance stocks lead gains; Hurricane Irma weakens

European stock markets inched higher on Monday morning, backed by gains in Asian trade as investors continued to monitor the economic impact of Hurricane Irma.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.94 percent higher during mid-morning deals, with almost all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Insurance stocks led the gains on Monday, up more than 2 percent, after the projected insured loss in the U.S. resulting from Hurricane Irma was cut to between $20 billion and $40 billion. Among the top gainers in Europe’s insurance index were Hannover Re, Swiss RE and Munich Re, all up over 4 percent. Meanwhile, Britain’s Beazley soared to the top of the benchmark, more than 5.5 percent higher.

Retail stocks were also up more than 1 percent in mid-morning deals. The sector was led higher by Swedish-based fashion retailer, H&M, after the group received a rating upgrade from Credit Suisse. The bank upgraded the firm by two notches to “outperform” from “under-perform” on Monday. Its shares were over 3 percent higher.

Looking at individual stocks, Danish pharmaceuticals company, Lundbeck, tumbled to the bottom of the benchmark on Monday. The group’s CEO Kare Schultz resigned from his position at the group and opted to join Israeli drug company, Teva. Shares in Lundbeck were almost 12 percent lower on the news.

Elsewhere, pharma heavyweight Astrazeneca reported two of its drugs tackling lung cancer had delivered impressive clinical results on Saturday. Its shares rose over 2 percent on Monday morning.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a category 1 storm and is poised to become a tropical storm later on Monday, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. The storm is currently centered approximately 60 miles north of Tampa, Florida.

In corporate news, U.K. football team Manchester United is due to report its fourth quarter and full-year earnings results.

Source: CNBC

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