European Shares Slip Amid COVID Surge

European stocks were flat to slightly lower on Monday as investors digested mixed economic data from China and kept a wary eye on the COVID-19 surge across much of Asia, with Taiwan imposing strict social curbs to stem its worst virus outbreak.

Traders also eyed the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest meeting, due out Wednesday, for any discussion about accelerating price pressures, and hints of a timeline for reducing asset purchases.

The pan European Stoxx 600 was marginally lower at 442.19 after climbing 1.2 percent on Friday. France’s CAC 40 index dipped 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent, while the German DAX was marginally higher.

The pound edged higher against its rivals as Britain took a big step towards reopening its economy, lifting a number of social restrictions imposed to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bayer AG shares fell 2.2 percent. The German company lost its second appeal of the three jury verdicts finding that the company’s Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Aareal Bank AG edged down slightly after it announced certain changes to its management board aiming to reduce its size.

Saint-Gobain fell about 1 percent after the French building materials group agreed to buy Romanian group Duraziv, specialized in the production of adhesives and other construction chemicals solutions.

GSK shares were modestly lower in London. The drugs giant and France’s Sanofi have reported “strong immune responses” in early tests of their COVID-19 vaccine. Sanofi shares rose half a percent.

Ryanair Holdings gained 0.7 percent. After posting a record annual loss, the discount carrier pointed to a strong recovery in the second half.

Diploma Plc shares surged 8 percent in London. The seal and cables maker reinstated dividend and upped its annual guidance after a very strong first-half performance.

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