- Eurozone service and manufacturing PMIs fall
- China's factory PMI slides
- Obama arrives in Europe for Crimea talks
FTSE 100: -0.32%
CAC 40: -0.53%
FTSE MIB: -0.34%
IBEX 35: -0.73%
Stoxx 600: -0.47%
European stocks declined as a preliminary report for manufacturing showed activity slowed in March.
Markit's purchasing managers' index (PMI) for Eurozone manufacturing this month dropped to 53 from 53.2 in February, in line with analysts' expectations. A reading above 50 signals expansion.
The services PMI came in at 52.6 in March, in line with the previous month and with forecasts.
The Composite PMI, which combines services and manufacturing, dipped to 53.2 this month from 53.3 previously, meeting the consensus estimate.
"This weakness is consistent with our view that the recovery will take place in a non-inflationary environment, as the amount of slack in the economy is large and the internal devaluation process is still ongoing in some euro area countries," Barclays said.
Inflation fell to 0.7%, down from 0.8% in January and well under the European Central Bank's target of just under 2%, revised figures showed last week. The ECB has been under mounting pressure to halt falling pressures but has so far held back on creating new policies.
In China, a preliminary report on PMI manufacturing in March dropped to 48.1 from 48.5 in February. Economists had pencilled in a figure of 49.7. It marked the fifth consecutive fall, fuelling concerns over a slowdown in the world's second largest economy.
"Today's weak PMI reading is the latest sign that slowing credit and investment growth are weighing on domestic demand," said Capital Economics.
"That said, with no sign of stress in the labour market, the slowdown does not yet appear to warrant a significant stimulus response."
Western leaders meet to discuss Crimea
US President Barack Obama has arrived in Europe for talks over the turmoil on Crimea.
The discussions between the US leader, European Union, China, Japan and others come after Russia signed a treated annexing the region from Ukraine.
The move is expected to hurt trade with other European regions, potentially sending Russia into a recession.
Last Friday, the EU increased the number of visa bans and asset freezes to 51 individuals in response to Crimea re-joining Russia. The US expanded its list to 27 Russians and four Ukrainians a day earlier.
Deutsche Post, CEZ
Deutsche Post gained following a report that the European postal service will increase its mail profit target by 60%.
Czech utility CEZ AS advanced after the nation's finance minister said the government is seeking a 100% dividend payout.
Centrica and SSE slumped following reports the UK's six biggest utilities may be split this week when energy regulator Ofgem calls in the competition watchdog.
Royal KPN declined after Citigroup lowered the Dutch telecommunications operator to 'neutral' from 'buy'.
Nokia Oyj dropped after saying the sale of its mobile phone division to Microsoft Corp. will be delayed by a month until April as Asian regulators review the deal.
The euro fell 0.17% to $1.3771.
Brent crude futures rose $0.205 to $107.140 per barrel, according to the ICE.