European stocks muted in choppy trade

(Reuters) – European stocks were subdued at the close on Monday after choppy trading as a surge in energy stocks was offset by investor concerns over fighting in Ukraine.

FILE PHOTO: The DAX chart of the German stock price index is pictured on the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Staff

The pan-European STOXX 600 was flat after posting its biggest weekly percentage gain since November 2020 on Friday.

Investors have been watching the war in Ukraine closely, with European Union governments considering an oil embargo on Russia as they met this week with US President Joe Biden for a series of summits aimed at toughening their stance against Moscow. .

The news triggered a rise in oil prices. Brent crude futures rose more than $3 to trade above $111 a barrel, sending the European oil and gas sector up 3.0%. [O/R]

“The European crude embargo should be put back on the table, with the possibility of more than a million barrels of Russian oil a day being snubbed,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. .

“Given that the Netherlands and Germany together received around a quarter of Russia’s crude and light oil exports, demand would increase for crude supplies from OPEC+ countries.”

Oil-exporting London’s FTSE 100 led gains among its continental peers, up 0.5%, as BP and Shell gained 4.1% each.

Meanwhile, France’s blue-chip index and Germany’s DAX fell 0.6% each.

Adding to investor concerns, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Monday that the central bank needed to act “quickly” to rein in too-high inflation, adding that it could use interest rate hikes more important than usual if necessary. .

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned earlier today to expect the Fed and ECB to go out of sync for the foreseeable future as the war in Ukraine has very different effects on their economies. .

“For the ECB to say that you can expect some policy divergence seems a little strange at the moment, unless there is a future policy announcement from the ECB that it is going to take further deterioration into account. growth prospects caused by the fighting in Ukraine,” said Stuart Cole, chief macroeconomist at Equiti Capital.

Meanwhile, data showed German producer prices maintained their record high in February, jumping 25.9% year-on-year, driven mainly by energy prices.

Among individual stocks, Julius Baer rose 0.6% after it said it had credit exposure to less than a single digit of customers subject to sanctions recently introduced in the Russian market.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jonathan Oatis

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Felix J. Dixon