European markets open higher as investors look for further lockdown easing

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European markets opened higher Monday as investors around the world await central bank meetings this week that could decide further stimulus measures to reboot economies deeply damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 1.6% at the start of the trading session, with autos adding 2.7% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

Investors in Europe are watching how the region gradually exits lockdown strategies that have crippled economies in Europe, central bank meetings this week are also in focus as further stimulus measures could be announced.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a two-day meeting starting Tuesday this week and the European Central Bank (ECB) meets Thursday.

Stocks in Asia Pacific rose in morning trade on Monday, with the Bank of Japan due to kick off its monetary policy meeting. Investors are watching for policy moves from the central bank to grapple with the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The total number of coronavirus infection cases around the world is now more than 2.96 million and at least 206,265 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

The U.S. has the most number of reported infections, with more than 963,379 cases in the country and over 54,800 deaths, Hopkins data showed. 

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