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European Markets Close Lower as Investors Watch Inflation, Monetary Policy; SocGen Up 5%

Arne Dedert | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
  • Global investors will be watching the U.S. consumer price index reading for March on Tuesday and producer price index on Wednesday for indications as to how drastically the Federal Reserve will have to act in order to rein in inflation.
  • European Central Bank policymakers will meet in Frankfurt on Thursday to discuss their next monetary policy move.
  • Investors also kept an eye on developments in Ukraine. Russia's invasion of the country has caused volatility in oil and other commodities markets, which has, in turn, disturbed stocks.

LONDON — European markets closed lower Monday to begin a week of key central bank meetings and U.S. inflation prints.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down by 0.7%, with tech stocks sliding 2% to lead losses as most sectors and major bourses finished in negative territory.

Societe Generale led broad gains for the European banking sector, climbing nearly 5% after agreeing to sell its stake in Russia's Rosbank and the group's Russian insurance subsidiaries to Interros Capital, ceasing all activities in Russia.

At the bottom of the European blue-chip index, Finland's Nokian Tyres dropped more than 15% after announcing that new EU sanctions against Russian rubber will have a significant impact on its production.

Global investors will be watching the U.S. consumer price index reading for March on Tuesday and producer price index on Wednesday for indications as to how drastically the Federal Reserve will have to act in order to rein in inflation.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks declined as U.S. Treasury yields continued to climb following a Friday jump that saw the benchmark 10-year yield hitting a three-year high.

Earnings season also kicks off stateside this week, with banking giants JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citi and Morgan Stanley all due to report.

Back in Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen progressed through the first round of voting in the French presidential election and will enter a tightly contested run-off on April 24.

A Le Pen victory would be a jolt to France and Europe as a whole, likely offering markets further cause for concern.

Investors also kept an eye on developments in Ukraine. Russia's invasion of the country has caused volatility in oil and other commodities markets, which has, in turn, disturbed stocks.

European Central Bank policymakers will meet in Frankfurt on Thursday to discuss their next monetary policy move, faced with the tough task of weighing surging consumer prices against downward pressure on economic growth from the war in Ukraine.

Beat Wittmann, chairman of Zurich-based Porta Advisors, told CNBC on Monday that the impending withdrawal of central bank liquidity, the growth and corporate earnings outlook and investor sentiment do not provide support for European risk assets in the near future.

"All these trends are either topping or are really negative, and depending on the war developments, inflation will be persistent and even spike, and central banks are very sharply focused on inflation and they have been lagging behind," Wittmann said.

"Therefore, I expect continued draining of liquidity, rising interest and inflation rates, and so far we've had disruptions only on the supply side. It might spill over on the demand side, but that's depending on developments in the war in Ukraine, and that can be expected to be prolonged in any case."

On the data front, the U.K. economy slowed more sharply than expected in February, official figures showed on Monday, with monthly GDP growth coming in at 0.1%, short of a 0.3% consensus forecast from economists in a Reuters poll.

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