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European Stocks Gain in Muted Trading Amid Market Closures, Row With Belarus

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Last updated: 05/24/2021 12:35:07

12:35 PM EDT, 05/24/2021 (MT Newswires) -- European stocks gained in subdued trading Monday with several markets closed for bank holidays, with the news slate dominated by corporate releases and reactions to the interception and forced landing Sunday of a Ryanair (RYA.L, RY4C.IR) flight in Minsk, Belarus where the government arrested a civic opposition activist who'd been onboard.

The French CAC ended up 0.4%, the European STOXX 600 closed up 0.7% and the FTSE 100 gained 0.5%. The Swiss and German equity markets remained closed.

European Union Foreign Policy Representative Josep Borrell said an "international investigation" will be conducted, the Financial Times reported, after an Ryanair flight between EU members Greece and Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk, where Belarus authorities arrested a dissident journalist who was a passenger. Borrell called the act "yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices."

EU diplomats were quoted saying the bloc is considering sanctions against Belarus including barring the country's flagship carrier from EU airports as well as declaring the Belarus airspace unsafe. Belarus called the criticism "baseless," while Russia reportedly termed the EU reaction "shocking."

On the corporate front, HeidelbergCement (HEI.F) agreed to sell the US West region business operations of unit Lehigh Hanson to Martin Marietta Materials (MLM) for $2.3 billion in cash.

In the UK, Kainos Group (KNOS.L) saw profit more than double in fiscal 2021, with the software company citing strengthened confidence after the resilience shown by the business during the pandemic in boosting its full-year dividend. Shares closed down 1.8%.

Meanwhile, BP (BP.L) has agreed to sell its 27.5% interest in the Shearwater oilfield in the North Sea to UK energy producer Tailwind for an undisclosed amount, Reuters reported. BP shares rose 1.4%.

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