Hope for a Russian-Ukrainian solution emerges

LONDON — European markets were choppy on Monday despite some hope for a diplomatic solution to Russian-Ukrainian tensions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index hovered around the flatline mid-morning after trading as much as 0.6% higher in early trading. Technology stocks fell 1.1%, while insurance and banking stocks gained 0.5%.

US President Joe Biden has agreed “in principle” to 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 the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later this week.

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

CNBC Pro Stock Picks and Investing Trends:

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

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

Shares of British firm Oxford Nanopore Technologies soared 7% in early trade to top the Stoxx 600, while Swedish IVF firm Vitrolife fell 6% to the bottom of the index.

On the data front, IHS Markit’s composite flash PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) for the euro zone, considered a reliable gauge of overall economic health, hit a five-month high of 55.8 in February despite record consumer price increases.

The figure was well above the 52.7 predicted in a Reuters poll and the 52.3 seen in January.

Subscribe at CNBC PRO for exclusive news and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.

Edward N. Arrington