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Title: European shares flat amid push for tougher sanctions on Russia

Apr 04, 2022 04:11AM ET

By: AnalysisWatch

European stocks gave up early gains and traded flat on Monday, with investors eyeing more Western sanctions after Ukraine accused Russia of war crimes.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index traded unchanged as losses in banks and some industrial stocks were partly offset by gains in shares of healthcare companies.

Germany said the West would agree to impose further sanctions on Russia, with the country's defence minister saying the European Union must discuss a ban on imports of Russian gas, which accounts for 40% of European consumption.

"A quick end (to Russian gas imports) is extremely difficult. Yet the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine will play a role in EU policy decisions in the near term, "said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

The sanctions imposed so far on the oil and commodity producing country have caused commodity prices to soar and fuelled fears of inflation. Last week's data showed that inflation in the European Union has reached record highs, increasing pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten its policy.

"Markets at this stage are probably still underestimating the risks associated with commodity supply," Haefele said.

That could spell further pain for the Stoxx 600 index, which is more than 7% low its all-time high, reached in January.

Losses limited shares of health-care companies, with Roche rising 2% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted a priority review for its drug to treat COVID-19 in hospitalized adults.

Novartis jumped 1.5% on plans to integrate its pharmaceutical and oncology units into an innovative medicine business with the aim of saving at least $1 billion by 2024.

Delivery Hero led the STOXX 600 index, rising 12.8% after it launched a €1.4 billion ($1.55 billion) debt financing syndication, using the funds to strengthen its liquidity position.

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