European stocks close lower ahead of earnings season


The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally around 0.3 percent lower, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Europe’s bank stocks were among the worst performers, down 0.6 percent. Germany’s Commerzbank slumped to the bottom of the sector amid ongoing merger talks with Deutsche Bank. A report said Monday that regulators have set strict standards for a deal, including demands for a detailed workforce reduction plan. Shares dropped 2.5 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Henkel rose close to the top of the pan-European benchmark after CEO Hans Van Bylen confirmed the company’s outlook for 2019 at its latest annual general meeting. Shares of the German chemicals group rose over 2 percent.

Meanwhile, France’s Safran tumbled after Boeing slashed 737 Max output in the wake of two deadly crashes. The 737 Max 8 had used LEAP-1B engines made by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and Safran. Shares of the Paris-listed stock slipped almost 2 percent.

German imports and exports fell more than expected in February, official data showed Monday. The Federal Statistics Office said seasonally adjusted exports dipped 1.3 percent month-on-month, while imports dropped 1.6 percent.

The latest batch of weak economic data makes it likely Europe’s largest economy will register relatively disappointing growth over the first three months of the year.

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