European stocks close higher; UK and U.S. markets closed

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This was CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

European markets closed slightly higher on Monday as traders searched for direction on a quiet day for markets.

The regional Stoxx 600 index was up by 0.28% with most sectors finishing in the green. Germany's Dax and France's CAC were both around 0.4% higher. Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's Ibex 35 were up 0.7%.

U.K. markets are closed for the late May bank holiday, while stateside, U.S. markets are shut for Memorial Day.

It comes as speculation over when interest rates might start to come down dominates the news flow once again.

On Monday, two key European Central Bank figures threw their weight behind the prospect of a June interest rate cut.

"Thanks to this disinflationary process, inflation is converging to our 2% target in a sustained way, and the time is thus ripe in June to ease the monetary policy stance and start cutting rates," ECB Governing Council Member Olli Rehn said in a speech.

Meanwhile, the ECB's Chief Economist Philip Lane said in an interview with the Financial Times, "Barring major surprises, at this point in time there is enough in what we see to remove the top level of restriction."

It indicates that the European Central Bank is going to act in June — sooner than the U.S. Federal Reserve, which usually leads the way in monetary policy decisions.

A number of strong economic and labor data releases in the U.S. last week saw Goldman Sachs push its forecast for the Federal Reserve's first rate cut back to September from July.

Elsewhere, the EU Foreign Affairs Council met on Monday and discussed issues including the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war and tensions in the Middle East. French President Emmanuel Macron also continued his state visit to Germany.

There are no major earnings or data releases due Monday. Later in the week, traders will be eyeing euro zone inflation figures for May due on Friday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, markets were higher as industrial profits in China rose during the first four months of the year, according to official data.

China's industrial profits rose 4.3% year on year in the January to April period, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

European markets close slightly higher

The regional Stoxx 600 index provisionally closed 0.28% higher, with most sectors finishing in the green.

Utilities rose by 1.1% and autos were up 0.96%. Healthcare stocks led losses, down 0.02%.

- April Roach

UK election is looking ‘difficult’ for Conservative party, analyst says

The outcome of the upcoming U.K. election will likely see the Conservatives get an "unprecedentedly low number" of seats in parliament, said Verisk Maplecroft's Laurent Balt.

"The election looks like it's going to be quite difficult for the Tories," said Balt. He added that the National Service pitch from the Conservatives looks like it is "designed to shore up the core vote of the Tories in this election, so a defensive strategy to stop them from really being almost eliminated in parliament."

Current polling suggests U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's party will get close to 100 seats which is a very low number, even for an opposition party, Balt added.

- April Roach

Sectors on the move

Oil and gas led the way on a muted day of trade Monday, up 0.88%, while autos were 0.75% higher.

Tech and financial services were the biggest losers, down 0.31% and 0.29% respectively.

— Katrina Bishop

U.S. economy is at risk of overheating, says strategist

Joost Van Leenders, senior investment strategist at Van Lanschot Kempen, discusses the dynamics in Europe and the U.S., and what catalysts could affect markets looking ahead.

— Katrina Bishop

Business sentiment in Germany misses expectations

Business sentiment in Germany was stagnant for the month of May, a survey by the country's Ifo Institute found, after three straight months of improvements.

"Sentiment among companies in Germany remains unchanged. The ifo Business Climate Index in May stayed at 89.3 points. Companies were less satisfied with their current business situation, but expectations brightened," the Institute's report read.

The index's level of 89.3 fell short of a Reuters poll forecast of 90.4

Manufacturing, trade and construction are seeing a recovery, while services fell slightly, the report said.

— Natasha Turak

ECB's Rehn says time is 'ripe' to cut rates in June

Olli Rehn, head of the Bank of Finland and a governing council member of the European Central Bank, said on Monday that inflation in the region was falling in a "sustained way."

"Thanks to this disinflationary process, inflation is converging to our 2% target in a sustained way, and the time is thus ripe in June to ease the monetary policy stance and start cutting rates," he said in a speech published on the website of the Finnish central bank.

"This obviously assumes that the disinflationary trend will continue and there will be no further setbacks in the geopolitical situation and energy prices."

That comes as inflation in the euro area held steady at 2.4% in April. It marked the seventh straight month the headline rate has been below 3%, despite a slight rebound in the rate in December.

Inflation figures for May are due on Friday.

— Katrina Bishop

Europe markets tick higher

European markets were broadly higher in early trade Monday, albeit only marginally.

France's CAC 40 was 0.13% higher and Germany's DAX was up 0.16% at 8:40 a.m. London time. Spain's Ibex 35 was around 0.17% in the green, while Italy's FTSE MIB was flat.

U.K. markets are closed for a national holiday.

— Katrina Bishop

European markets expected to open higher

France's CAC 40 is expected to open 5 points higher at 8,098, while Germany's DAX is seen up 17 points at 18,709.

Italy's FTSE MIB is expected to rise 15 points and Spain's IBEX is seen 12 points higher.

U.K. markets are closed for a nationwide holiday.

— Katrina Bishop

Signs of market broadening appearing, says strategist

Even as big tech names power the market higher and dominate headlines, there are signs of broadening, according to Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird.

"While there was some angst last year over heavy concentration in Big Tech stocks, the market has broadened out significantly in recent months," Mayfield said.

He noted that "While concentrated markets have not historically led to bad returns, it is usually a sign of a healthier economy when breadth — the number of individual stocks and sectors that are doing well — is better (more legs supporting the stool, so to speak)."

— Hakyung Kim

India stocks hit intraday record highs for the third straight day

India's main stock indexes hit intraday record highs for the third straight session, with the Nifty 50 index up 0.15% and the S&P BSE Sensex Total Return index last up about 0.25%.

So far this year, the BSE Sensex has risen 4.6%, while the Nifty 50 has risen 5.8%, according to LSEG data.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of India approved the highest-ever dividend to the government, with a 2.11 trillion rupee ($25.3 billion) cash injection, which was significantly higher than analysts' and government predictions. 

Focus has also been on the general elections in India which kicked off on April 19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly said the stock markets will touch fresh highs on June 4 when the results of the 2024 elections are announced.

Modi is widely expectedly to secure a third term in office.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

CNBC Pro: Overinvested in Nvidia? Here are some alternative growth stocks

Investor darling Nvidia continued its artificial intelligence-fueled boom, with its earnings beating expectations last week.

"The biggest question that remains is how long this runway is," said Lucas Keh, analyst at research firm Third Bridge.

Wall Street is still mostly bullish on Nvidia. But investors who are worried about being overexposed to Nvidia or who want to make their portfolios more balanced could consider replacing their Nvidia allocation or complementing it with other growth stocks with a low correlation to the chipmaker.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Nvidia shares notch 15% weekly gain

Chipmaker Nvidia has rallied 15% week-to-date. The stock has surged following its better than expected quarter earnings report on Wednesday, which indicated ongoing strong demand for its artificial intelligence chips.

Shares topped $1,000 for the first time this week on the earnings.

— Hakyung Kim

CNBC Pro: Silver vs Gold: Bank of America names 4 ‘attractive’ ETFs to gain exposure to precious metals

As the price of gold hits an all-time high and silver rallies to a multi-year high, Bank of America has identified four exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that offer attractive exposure to precious metals.

These funds reflect baskets of physical precious metals, with varying allocations to silver, gold, palladium, and platinum.

The bank's research also suggests that a portfolio with 40% exposure to broad commodities would have outperformed a portfolio with 40% United States Treasury bonds by 0.8% per year since 1945.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

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