Renewed U.S.-North Korea tensions, Jackson Hole meeting on investors' minds
European stocks closed lower Monday as investors grappled with renewed U.S.-North Korea tensions, but deal news helped lift shares of Danish conglomerate A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.4% to finish at 372.72, falling for a third session in a row and adding to Friday's loss of 0.7% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/spanish-stocks-lead-european-selloff-after-deadly-terrorists-attack-in-barcelona-2017-08-18) that came after terrorist attacks in Spain.
Monday's slump came as the U.S. and South Korea kicked off annual military exercises (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tensions-expected-to-rise-as-us-south-korea-start-annual-war-games-2017-08-20), bringing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea back into focus. Pyongyang warned on Sunday that the maneuvers are "reckless behavior, driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war."
The "start of military exercises between America and South Korea could spark a return to the kind of market-dragging nuclear rhetoric seen a few weeks ago," wrote Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell.
Stock movers: But investors did have corporate developments to consider Monday. Maersk (MAERSK-B.KO) jumped 2.9% after the shipping heavyweight reached a deal to sell its oil and gas business for $7.45 billion to French oil producer Total SA (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/total-buys-maersk-oil-unit-in-745-billion-deal-2017-08-21)(TOT). Total shares finished 0.3% higher.
Shares in Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) gained 3.2% after Total became a partner in a Kenyan oil project through its acquisition of Maersk's energy business. Barclays analysts said Total will bring a "new dynamic" to the Kenyan project, a Dow Jones Newswires report said.
Fiat shares (FCA.MI) (FCA.MI) climbed 6.9% after Reuters reported (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinese-auto-maker-interested-in-buying-fiat-reuters-2017-08-21) that China's Great Wall Motor Co. (2333.HK) had expressed interest in buying the Italian-American car maker. An earlier report by Automotive News (http://www.autonews.com/article/20170821/GLOBAL03/170829942/china-great-wall-jeep) said Great Wall Motor was interested in Fiat's Jeep brand.
National indexes: France's CAC 40 index fell 0.5% to close at 5,087.59, and Germany's DAX 30 index lost 0.8% to finish at 12,065.99.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dropped 0.1% to end at 7,318.88.
Central banks in focus: Investors are already looking ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve's central bank symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which starts Thursday.
"Many leaders, including the Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will speak about growth, inflation and changes in trade relations due to Trump policies. Yet, no significant policy messages are expected," said LCG's senior market analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.
ECB chief Draghi will be watched for any signal that the bank has developed a scenario for winding down monetary easing. On Monday, the euro bought $1.1814, up from $1.1762 late Friday in New York.
Read:Euro slides after ECB hints at no hawkish shift at Jackson Hole (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-slides-after-ecb-hints-at-no-hawkish-shift-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-16)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 21, 2017 11:58 ET (15:58 GMT)