LONDON — European stocks were slightly higher on Monday as investors brace themselves for the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, and react to positive manufacturing data out of China.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.4% in early trade, boosted by data showing an acceleration of Chinese factory activity. Banks and insurance stocks gained 0.7% while the travel and leisure sector fell 0.9%.
Market focus is widely centered on the U.S. election uncertainty and the latest coronavirus developments. U.S. stock futures edged higher Monday morning despite rising concerns over the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the global economy.
The British government announced on Saturday a national lockdown for England, making it the latest country to return to a nationwide shutdown, which begins on Thursday, to try to stem the rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations due to the virus.
There are widespread concerns over the outcome of the U.S. presidential election Tuesday as a contested dispute over the result could delay much-needed fiscal stimulus for the U.S. economy.
A final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has found that former Vice President and Democrat nominee Joe Biden held a substantial national lead over President Donald Trump in the closing days before the vote.
A majority of voters say they’re unhappy with how the president has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and where the country is going.
In overnight trading in Asia-Pacific, stocks mostly rose as a private survey showed China’s manufacturing activity grew for the sixth straight month in October. The Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Chinese manufacturing came in at 53.6 for October, higher than the 53.0 reading forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
On the data front, final manufacturing PMI data for October for the euro zone is released.
In terms of individual share price action, online supermarket Ocado climbed 8.6% as lockdowns are reintroduced across the continent. At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British sporting goods chain JD Sports fell more than 6% along with Belgian materials technology company Umicore.
– CNBC’s Yun Li and Yen Nee Lee contributed reporting to this story.