European stocks close lower but finish up 2.8% for the month; Suez soars 18%

European stocks closed lower Monday, despite a strong start to the session, as traders digested corporate news and dovish U.S. monetary policy signals.

Most major European bourses finished in negative territory, but clocked gains of 2.8% for the month of August, according to Reuters data. In the U.K., markets were closed Monday due to a public holiday.

Last week, the Federal Reserve, which has cut interest rates to zero and open-ended asset-purchasing program to support the economy, laid out an inflation policy framework that would keep rates lower for longer.

On Wall Street Monday, stocks were also mixed on Monday as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average wrapped up their best August performances since the 1980s.

Asia Pacific markets on Monday closed largely higher, with Japanese shares leading the gains amid the search for a replacement of longstanding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. News that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has bought stakes in five leading Japanese trading firms also helped sentiment. The deal is viewed as a long-term bet on the global economy.

Investors are still keeping an eye on coronavirus developments though, as global cases surpassed 25 million on Sunday. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S., Brazil and India have the highest number of infections, with the U.S. closing in on 6 million.

In corporate news, Swiss food and drink giant Nestle said it was buying U.S. peanut allergy treatment maker Aimmune Therapeutics, bolstering its health science portfolio. Nestle shares closed marginally lower on Monday.

Telecom Italia shares gave up earlier gains to close down by 0.5% on Monday. The Italian state-backed telecommunications firm is close to agreeing a landmark deal with U.S. fund KKR that could lay the groundwork for plans to create a single ultrafast broadband network, Reuters reported.

Shares of the French utility Suez soared 18% after Veolia offered to buy a stake in the company, which was seen as possibly leading to a full takeover.

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