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European stocks rise as utility stocks lead gains

European stocks rose Monday morning amid a slew of corporate news. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.4 percent during early morning deals, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Europe’s utility stocks led the gains Monday morning, up over 1.5 percent shortly after the opening bell. Italgas, Severn Trent and Iberdrola were the top sectoral performers, all trading more than 2 percent higher.

The region’s banking index was also around one percent higher Monday morning, after the Financial Times reported French bank Societe Generale and Italian rival Unicredit were exploring the possibility of a merger. Shares of both banks were trading more than 1.5 percent higher on the news.

Looking at individual stocks, French flag carrier Air France KLM surged to the top of the European benchmark after AccorHotels said Sunday it was reviewing whether to buy a stake in the company.

AccorHotels reportedly said it had previously held discussions with Air France about the possibility to develop joint projects. Shares of the Air France rose almost 5 percent, while AccorHotel slumped towards the bottom of the index- down around 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank said Sunday that it had upped its bid for challenger bank Virgin Money. The deal would create the U.K.’s sixth largest lender. The takeover panel deadline for the deal is 5:00 p.m. London time on Monday afternoon.

In European Union member Slovenia, preliminary results show that an anti-immigration party has won a parliamentary election which took place Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about the euro zone in a newspaper interview published on Sunday, in which she supported some of French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s calls for more solidarity within the monetary union.

The French government said on Sunday that the show of unity was a “positive move.” But in the same interview Merkel also ruled out debt relief for Italy, saying that unity within the euro zone did not mean that it should become a debt-sharing bloc.

Asian stocks were trading higher on Monday, tailing Friday’s gains by U.S. markets on stronger-than-expected jobs report and shrugging off concerns about threats to world trade.

Source: CNBC

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