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Europe: Shares hold gains ahead of events blizzard

[LONDON] European shares closed higher ahead of a blizzard of political, economic and corporate events, with a Brexit vote and Apple results on Tuesday and a Federal Reserve decision and Sino-US trade talks on Wednesday.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended the day up 0.8 per cent, while London's FTSE 100 rallied by more than 1.3 per cent ahead of the vote in Parliament on Brexit.

Gains were spread among most sectors and bourses but Investors shunned stocks or indexes exposed to US-China trade, such as Frankfurt's DAX, which limited its gains to 0.1 per cent or automotives, which fell 0.5 per cent.

News that the United States levelled criminal charges against China's Huawei before the new round of talks between Washington and Beijing added to the subdued mood.

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Trading was limited with FTSE 100 turnover at 88 per cent of the average 90 day daily volume, Stoxx 600 at 85 per cent and DAX at 77 per cent.

The mood was however better in Europe than on Wall Street where indexes were slightly in the red.

Stéphane Barbier de la Serre, a strategist at Makor Capital Markets, said European markets had catching up to do and that Wednesday's US monetary meeting was making investors there more cautious.

"Let's wait for the Fed", summed up their thinking, he said.

The European technology sector, down 0.5 per cent, was also among the few losers with SAP, Europe's most valuable technology company, down 2.7 per cent after its results.

Technology stocks in the US were also retreating with Apple set to report after market close and Amazon.com , Facebook and Microsoft, all scheduled to report later this week.

Among individual moves, Germany's Sartorius jumped 18.2 per cent after its results.

Royal Mail hit an all-time lows after failing to deliver its full-year results.

Shares in Scor sank 11.4 per cent. The French reinsurer is suing rival Covea and its chief executive for breach of trust after Covea announced it had abandoned plans for a friendly takeover of Scor. 

REUTERS