European markets proved volatile on Monday, as nervousness about oil prices and the Chinese economy prevailed. They quickly wiped out an early gain, as a slight fillip from China's renminbi rate fix at its strongest level since Jan. 6 was outweighed by Iran's plans to release a further 500,000 barrels of oil a day following the lifting of sanctions agreed over the weekend. Brent Crude fell below $29 a barrel, pushing down oil majors such as Britain's BP plc and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell plc. Yet by late morning many indices were back in positive territory.
Shortly before 11.00 GMT, the FTSE100 was up 0.44% at 5,29.51, while in Paris the CAC40 was up 0.40% at 4,226.89 and in Frankfurt the DAX was up 0.49% at 9,591.214.
Iran's hoped for reintegration into the world market could also benefit European industrial and consumer stocks. Truck and carmaker Daimler AG rose 0.35% in Frankfurt to €64.49 a share, after it said it signed letters of intent with Iran Khodro Diesel and Mammut Group on a joint venture for making Mercedes trucks and establishing a sales company. It could also buy a stake in an Iranian diesel engine maker.
Boeing Co.'s BA European rival Airbus Group SE also gained some altitude on expectations of a sale of 114 aircraft to Iran announced at the weekend in Tehran, though it lost much of its early rise as the market slipped. By the end of the morning in Paris it was up just 0.18% at €56.25.
In London, Irish pharma group Shire plc was the top gainer, after an upgrade by Exane BNP Paribas to outperform from neutral, following its $32 billion deal last week to acquire rare diseases specialist Baxalta Inc..
Supermarket chain J. Sainsbury plc slipped 0.98% to 241.50 pence, despite the confirmation of an agreed deal for Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd. to acquire home improvement chain Homebase from Britain's Home Retail Group plc. In theory, the deal could ease the way for Sainsbury to acquire Home Retail's other business, general merchandise retailer Argos., which it has been stalking since last year. But Home Retail has so far shown little enthusiasm for Sainsbury's approach, preferring to turn the unit around under its own steam. Home Retail was up 0.13% at 153.8 pence.
In Asia, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei225 closed down 1.12% at 16,955.57, and the Topix was off 1.04% at 1,387.93. But China's combined Shanghai and Shenzhen index the CSI300 closed up 0.38% at 3,130.73, a display of confidence that was also reported to have limited the downside in Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng finished the day down 1.45% at 19,237.45.