(Reuters) - A multi-billion euro merger and encouraging manufacturing data helped European shares close conformably higher on Monday after their worst week in six months amid jitters over the economic fallout from a virus outbreak in China.
In London, after Britain officially exited the European Union on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out tough terms for Brexit talks, rekindling fears Britain would reach the end of an 11-month transition period without agreeing a trade deal.
Internationally focused companies on London's blue-chip index .FTSE benefited as the hard Brexit talk pummelled the pound. The FTSE 100 ended 0.6% higher. [GBP/][.L]
The pan-European STOXX 600 index built on its gains to close up 0.3% with shares of French payments services provider Ingenico Group (INGC.PA) topping the index.
Ingenico surged 17.2% after peer Worldline (WLN.PA) agreed to buy the company for 7.8 billion euro ($8.7 billion). Shares of smaller rival Nexi (NEXII.MI) also rallied amid talk of more sector consolidation, taking the tech sector up 1.6%, the most among European sub-sectors.
European travel and leisure stocks .SXTP, which have been among the worst hit by uncertainty over China, rebounded 0.3% as budget airline Ryanair (RYA.I) led gains after it swung to a profit in the third quarter.
Further boosting sentiment, a survey on Monday showed euro zone factory activity contracted again in January but did so at its shallowest rate since mid-2019, suggesting the worst may be over for the bloc’s battered manufacturing industry.
With investors also taking heart from similar data buoying Wall Street, the STOXX 600 recovered from a 3% slump last week when the World Health Organization declared the virus outbreak in China a global emergency. The virus has claimed 361 lives within China so far.
“There is still some optimism that for the most part (the outbreak) is contained within China, and in addition investors are appreciating slightly better than expected PMI data which highlighted that we are seeing some signs that Europe might be turning the corner,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda New York.
Oil and gas stocks .SXEP were the worst performers for the day as worries over demand in China continued to erode oil prices. [O/R]
German medical technology firm Siemens Healthineers (SHLG.DE) was among the worst performers on the STOXX 600 after it reported disappointing first-quarter results.
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Angus MacSwan