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European shares flat with all eyes on central bank moves

·2-min read
German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Susan Mathew

(Reuters) -European shares ditched almost all session losses in a volatile session on Monday, as investors brace for a week that could see a large interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve and a host of other central bank meetings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index, which traded lower for most of the session when it lost up to 1% and hit two-month lows, gained about 0.2% in the last hour before ending down 0.09%.

European shares took heart from a brief move higher on Wall Street, said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers. [.N]

"Markets are being very skittish in a central heavy week. They have gotten very circular. One looks to the other and then takes its cue especially when you're in volatile times," he said, citing U.S. yields on 10-year Treasury bonds hitting intraday lows as the turning point.

He also noted that reduced expectations, now at around 15%, for a 100 basis points hike (bps) by the Fed on Wednesday, could also be aiding sentiment. It is seen delivering its third straight 75 bps hike of the year.

Most of the banks meeting this week - from Switzerland to South Africa - are expected to hike, with markets split on whether the Bank of England will go by 50 or 75 bps.

European markets closed their worst weekly performance in three months on Friday on escalating recession worries amid aggressive monetary policy tightening.

While cautious gains in major regional bourses were led by a 0.5% rise in the German DAX, France's CAC 40 index, underperformed, losing 0.3%.

Weighing on sentiment there was the collapse of a merger plan between two TV companies, TFI and M6, that could have created a giant to challenge U.S. streaming services such as Netflix.

Shares in TF1 fell 2.3% and M6 declined 3.4% as they noted antitrust requests had made the deal irrelevant.

More broadly, consumer and industrial stocks led gains, which were countered by losses in healthcare and real estate stocks. Volumes were thinned by a holiday in London.

In a bright spot, Volkswagen edged up 1.1% as it saw a valuation of up to 75 billion euros ($75.1 billion) for luxury sportscar maker Porsche, in what will be Germany's second-largest initial public offering (IPO) in history.

Shares in Porsche Holding SE, Volkswagen's top shareholder, added 3.5%, topping Germany's DAX index.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Johann M. Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and Jonathan Oatis)