By Sruthi Shankar
(Reuters) - Europe's STOXX 600 inched higher on Monday as surging travel and technology stocks helped counter losses in the energy sector, with investors focused on Brexit-related developments and central bank actions later this week.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> closed 0.2% higher after rising as much as 0.8% earlier in the session.
Much of those gains were lost as oil majors Total <TOTF.PA>, BP <BP.L> and Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> dropped after major industry figures said damage to the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic will hollow out demand for oil more than previously thought. [O/R]
Markets had rallied earlier on news that AstraZeneca <AZN.L> had resumed clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine after being suspended last week.
The British drugmaker's shares <AZN.L> slipped amid losses for the healthcare sector, but battered travel and leisure stocks <.SXTP> led the gains in Europe, with British Airways-owner IAG <ICAG.L> jumping 4.4%, and easyJet <EZJ.L> and Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> rising nearly 2%.
Europe's tech sector <.SX8P> rose 0.9%, with chipmakers STMicroelectronics <STM.PA>, AMS <AMS.S> and ASM International <ASMI.AS> up between 0.9% and 3.7%.
U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp <NVDA.O> said it would buy UK-based chip designer Arm from Japan's SoftBank Group <9984.T> for as much as $40 billion in a deal set to reshape the global semiconductor landscape.
Still euro zone stocks <.STOXXE> were up just 0.1% and UK's FTSE 100 <.FTSE> down 0.1%, with gains for both the euro and sterling hurting the exporters.
"It appears to be becoming much more difficult to separate the optimism around the chatter about progress on a vaccine, with the economic reality that tighter restrictions are likely to curtail the current rebound in economic activity across the bloc," CMC Market's Michael Hewson wrote in a note.
Investors waited for UK lawmakers to vote on a bill which the European Union has told London to scrap, raising pessimism over the chances of a Brexit deal being reached before the December 2020 deadline.
Focus was also on this week's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, its first since Chairman Jerome Powell unveiled a policy shift toward greater tolerance of inflation.
Britain's G4S <GFS.L> soared 25.1% after saying that it had rejected a 2.95 billion pound ($3.8 billion) offer from Canadian security firm GardaWorld, saying it was "highly opportunistic".
Exchange operators were caught in a bidding war, with France's Euronext <ENX.PA> and Deutsche Boerse <DB1Gn.DE> down 2.5% and 1.3% after sources told Reuters that Switzerland's Six made the highest bid in the battle for Borsa Italiana.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)