European stocks higher ahead of US-China trade talks; Italian banks gain – CNBC

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.8 percent during mid-afternoon trade, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Banks were the best performers Monday, with Italian lenders taking the lead after reports that their capital positions were higher than the levels required by the European Central Bank. Banco BPM was the biggest sectoral gainer, jumping 6.5 percent higher. It also topped the Stoxx 600.

Looking at individual stocks, Deutsche Post rose after a report suggested Germany could grant the postal services firm with a higher-than-anticipated increase in postage for letters from the summer. Shares of the postal service advanced over 2 percent.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Smith & Nephew slumped to the bottom of the index after the Financial Times reported the London-listed company was in talks to buy NuVasive. Shares of Smith & Nephew fell 4 percent.

On the data front, official figures published Monday showed Britain’s economy grew at its slowest pace since 2012 last year. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the final three months of 2018 slipped to a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent from 0.6 percent in the previous quarter.

The quarterly GDP figures follows a flurry of economic data in recent weeks that suggest businesses and consumers are increasingly nervous about Britain’s departure from the European Union next month. Sterling was trading 0.4 percent lower at $1.2900 on the news.

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