European stocks turned positive Monday as heavyweight energy companies helped boost index prices amid a firm rise in global oil prices
The broadest measure of European bluechip equities, the Stoxx 50 index, gained 0.4% by mid-morning and was quoted at 3,033 points by 10:40 GMT. Britain's FTSE 100 index added 0.4% while benchmarks in France and Germany saw similar percentage gains. Italy's FTSE MIB, however, fell around 0.75% amid concerns that the country's senate reform referendum may fail.
Energy stocks were the biggest gainers in London, with Glencore (GLNCY) up 2.8% and BP (BP - Get Report) and Shell (RDS.A - Get Report) advancing around 2%. France's Total SA gained 1.17% in Paris while Transocean Ltd (RIG - Get Report) topped the board in Zurich with a 1.4% rise.
Global oil prices continued to rise in European trading amid speculation that OPEC members are getting closer to agreeing their first collective production freeze sine 2008 in order to stabilise falling prices following optimistic comments from Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the world leaders' summit in Lima, Peru.
Nymex light sweet crude prices for January delivery added 1.9% to trade at around $47.18 per barrel while Brent crude, generally considered to be the global benchmark, added a similar percentage gain to trade at $48.84
A notable downside mover in Europe were shares of Novartis AG (NVS - Get Report) , which fell 1.22% to around Sfr70.63 in Zurich after the Swiss-based drugmaker said it will pay up to $665 million for Oklahoma City-based Selexys Inc., a maker of treatments for patients suffering from sickle cell disorders.
The bullish run of the U.S. dollar looks set to define much of the holiday-shortened week, with the greenback continuing to test multi-year highs against a basket of global currencies in the European session. The dollar index traded as high as 101.20 overnight in Asia before slipping around 0.33% to 100.97 at the start of equity trading in Europe.
The coincided with a solid 0.43% gain (to 1.0636) for the European single currency, which found favor in the early session on major political developments in two of the region's biggest economies. Germany's Angela Merkel, said Sunday that she will seek a fourth term as Chancellor, the country's top political post, easing concerns of fractured autumn election that could have ended the co-called 'Grand Coalition' that has run the country for the past decade.
A weekend win for France's Francois Fillion, a former Prime Minister, in the first round of Republican primaries also boosted sentiment in the single currency, as traders bet the right-of-center politician could offer a pro-Europe, free-market alternative to the far right Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Fillion's win also ended the comeback of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who finished third in the Sunday ballot behind his former protege and left-of-center candidate Alain Juppe.
Bond markets were relatively quiet overnight and continued their tepid trading in the European session, although yields were falling marginally across the board ahead of a week of around €10.8 billion in new government debt sales. U.S. 10-year Treasuries were around 0.3 basis points lower at 2.33% early in the session while benchmark 10-year bunds were quoted at 0.28% against firmer opening prices for the bund futures contract.
Italian government bonds, however, were the exception, with prices falling again Monday to take the extra yield, or spread, that investors demand to hold that debt instead of triple-A rated bunds to around 1.82% amid warnings from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that his government will collapse if it loses a national referendum on senate reform slated for December 4.
Final polls for the plebiscite, published last week, suggest votes will reject Renzi's reform plans, although more than 20% remain undecided.