Hopes of Russia-Ukraine solution emerge

LONDON – European markets advanced on Monday as hopes emerged for a diplomatic solution to Russia-Ukraine tensions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index added 0.6% in early trade, with banks climbing 1.1% to lead gains as all sectors and major stock exchanges entered positive territory.

US President Joe Biden has accepted “in principle” a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, paving the way for last-ditch diplomatic efforts to avert an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday evening that if Moscow does not launch an invasion in the coming days, the summit would take place following a scheduled meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday as investors continued to monitor the situation surrounding Ukraine, while China left its benchmark lending rate unchanged. Markets in the United States are closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, having dropped sharply on Friday as global markets were roiled by rising tensions in eastern Europe.

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In corporate news, Credit Suisse said on Sunday that it “strongly rejects” allegations published following a coordinated global media investigation into a mass leak of its client data over previous decades. The leaked information was purported to contain human rights abusers and businessmen under sanctions.

The Swiss lender said the information published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and 46 other news organizations was based on “partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context.”

Shares of Britain’s Oxford Nanopore Technologies climbed 5.7% in early trade to lead the Stoxx 600, while tech investment company Prosus fell 3.5% after losses for Tencent on fears of further regulatory crackdowns in China.

On the data front, initial flash PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings for February are due out of France, Germany and the euro area, along with the UK, on ​​Monday morning.

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