Europe Markets: Banks and pharmaceutical companies lead in London, while Synairgen, Morses shares tumble

United States

The week kicked off with losses for London on Monday, as an increasingly downbeat geopolitical mood driving the U.K. index lower.

The FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.41% dipped 0.2% to 7,407, which was better than bigger drops seen on the continent, where the Stoxx 600 SXXP, -1.11% was off 0.7%. U.S. stock futures also fell — Wall Street is closed for the Presidents Day holiday — after reports that Russia had not yet committed to a summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to broker face to face talks for Thursday, which the U.S. agreed to, and those reports drove up U.S. futures and global equities earlier Monday. But optimism faded by Monday afternoon in Europe after a Kremlin spokesman said nothing had been decided.

Banking stocks were rising, led by a 0.8% gain for Natwest NWG, -1.39% NWG, +0.60%, which reported strong results on Friday, though rising costs. Shares of HSBC HSBC, +0.85% HSBA, -0.06% were up slightly ahead of Tuesday’s fourth-quarter results.

AstraZeneca AZN, -1.85% AZN, +3.16% was the best performer on the index, up 2% after the pharmaceutical giant reported positive Phase 3 trial results for its breast-cancer treatment Enhertu, which showed meaningful survival improvement in patients compared with chemotherapy.

B&M European Value Retail BME, +2.09% and Reckitt Benckiser RKT, +1.55% were up over 1% each.

The downside was led by major oil companies, as energy prices CL00, +0.24% BRN00, +0.55% bounced around on Ukraine headlines, with BP BP, -1.30% BP, -1.61% and Shell SHEL, -0.87% SHEL, -0.73% off by around 1% each. Shares of Russian metals firms Evraz EVR, -4.56% and Polymetal POLY, -7.35% fell 4% and 6%, respectively.

The biggest drop was reserved for Synairgen SNG, -83.35%, which slumped 80% after the U.K. drug-discovery company said a Phase 3 trial of its inhaled treatment for COVID-19 failed to meet its primary or key secondary efficacy endpoints.

And Morses Club MCL, -61.83% stock tumbled 63% after the U.K. subprime lender issued a profit warning due to increased claims activity. It also said Chief Executive Officer Paul Smith has stepped down with immediate effect, and will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Gary Marshall.