Investing.com

Investing.com - European stocks edged higher on Monday, as trading volumes were expected to remain light in the absence of any major economic reports to be released from the euro zone, while markets continued to eye developments in the Ukraine.



During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.39%, France’s CAC 40 edged up 0.12%, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.26%.



Investors remained cautious as hostilities between Russia and Ukraine continued. On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington was ready to step up sanctions on Russia.



The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.



Financial stocks were mixed, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PARIS) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PARIS) gained 0.71% and 0.10%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) declined 0.56%.



Among peripheral lenders, Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) rose 0.21% and Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) shed 0.31% in Italy, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) climbed 0.41% and 0.42%.



Elswhere, Bayer (BAYGN.XETRA) surged 4.12% after the German pharmaceutical and chemicals conglomorate said it is exploring a sale of its $10 billion plastics unit to focus on boosting its health business.



The news came after the company reported a 12% rise in first-quarter profit, helped by new medicines and a rebound at its plastics unit.



In London, FTSE 100 added 0.20%, led by Astrazeneca (AZN.LONDON), up 11.99%, after Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) confirmed that it is interested in acquiring the U.K. drugmaker for about £58.8 billion. The acquisition would be one of the largest takeovers in the industry’s history.



Meanwhile, financial stocks were mostly lower, as HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LONDON) dipped 0.03% and Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LONDON) slipped 0.13%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LONDON) tumbled 1.06%. Barclays (BARC.LONDON) overperformed on the other hand, adding 0.21%.



In the mining sector, stocks were mostly lower. Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LONDON) dropped 0.70% and Bhp Billiton (BLT.LONDON) retreated 0.86%, while rival company Rio Tinto (RIO.LONDON) saw shares plummet 1.90%.



In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.14% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.16% increase, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.12% gain.



Later in the day, the U.S. was to release private sector data on pending home sales.





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