European shares were mostly higher Monday afternoon, as investors monitored a U.S. government shutdown and political developments in Germany.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 rose slightly in afternoon trade, up 0.25 percent, while sectors pointed in different directions. Most European bourses were higher in afternoon trade; however, the FTSE 100 came under slight pressure.
Travel and leisure stocks led the losses Monday, down almost 1 percent amid reports of a fixed-odds betting limit in Britain. London-listed gambling companies such as William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral slumped to the bottom of the benchmark.
The stake on gambling machines in British betting shops could be cut to £2 ($2.78) in an effort to tackle the risks associated with problem gamblers, the Sunday Times reported, citing an ally of Culture Secretary Matt Hancock. Shares of Ladbrokes Coral fell 9 percent, while William Hill tumbled 12.5 percent.
On the opposite end, telecoms and banking stocks posted solid gains. Deutsche Telekom and Orange both rose more than 2 percent each Monday, after a report in Le Monde newspaper said that the two telecom companies had held merger talks during the last year, according to Reuters.
Looking to Europe’s banks, Barclays rose over 4 percent after the Financial Times reported over the weekend that hedge fund Tiger Global Management had invested over $1 billion in the U.K. lender.
On the earnings front, UBS shares were slipped into the red after the Swiss bank reported its full-year earnings. The lender reported a net profit of 1.165 billion Swiss francs ($1.25 billion) for the whole of 2017, weighed down by a write-down in the fourth quarter which related to the new U.S. tax overhaul.
Meanwhile, British online grocer Ocado said it had signed an agreement with Sobeys to develop an online business at Canada’s second-largest food retailer. Its shares soared 20 percent higher on the news.
On Monday, pharmaceutical firm Sanofi announced that it would be acquiring U.S. hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion, with Sanofi saying it would help push the company’s presence in the rare diseases and specialty care space. Shares of the French drug-maker fell over 4 percent.
In Germany, progress has been made toward forming the next coalition government. On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed news that the opposing Social Democratic Party will enter into talks with her Christian Democrats.
Elsewhere in Europe, Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno is to chair his first meeting as Eurogroup president Monday.
Stateside, the U.S. government looks set to remain closed Monday, the third day of a shutdown over a disputed spending bill. Democrats are demanding for legislation to protect so-called “Dreamers,” people brought illegally into the U.S. as children. A Senate vote is set for 12 p.m. ET on measures that would provide temporary funding through to February 8, thereby allowing thousands of government employees to get back to work.
The concerns surrounding the government shutdown weighed on market sentiment stateside, with U.S. stocks trading mostly lower around Monday’s open as the first government shutdown since 2013 entered its third day.
European stocks edge higher, lifted by telecoms, banks; William Hill down 12%