European markets edge lower amid geopolitical uncertainty; Moller-Maersk up 3.9%

Falls followed a fragile Asian session which saw investors move away from riskier assets amid joint U.S. and South Korean military drills. In the U.S., too, markets opened largely flat as investors awaited the latest reform developments as President Donald Trump returned from a two-week break.

The risk-off move hit banks the hardest with Europe’s banking index down more than 0.9 percent. Meanwhile, basic resources stocks were trading 0.15 percent higher on Monday, supported by stronger-than-expected metal prices. London zinc prices rose to its highest level in 10 years on robust demand for steel in China. Mining giants Anglo American and Antofagasta were the top performers in the sector.

Looking at individual stocks, Fiat Chrysler surged towards the top of the index, up more than 4 percent on news that Chinese car maker Great Wall Motor is interested in the company.

Danish conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk announced Monday that it had agreed to sell its oil and gas division, Maersk Oil, to French oil giant Total for $7.45 billion. The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, sent Moller-Maersk’s shares 3.9 percent higher.

Rathbone Brothers said Monday it had opened exclusive talks with the Smith & Williamson group of firms regarding a potential all-share merger of the two companies. The London-based investment and wealth management company said that talks had been underway for some time with the boards of both groups expressing confidence that stakeholders would see meaningful benefits. Its shares were initially buoyed by the news but fell into negative territory during afternoon deals.

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