- Italy's Renzi to start coalition talks
- Moody's lifts Italy's debt rating
- Japanese GDP rises
- UK house prices accelerate further
FTSE 100: 0.99%
CAC 40: -0.06%
FTSE MIB: -0.06%
IBEX 35: 0.04%
Stoxx 600: 0.43%
European stocks were little changed as Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano asked centre-left leader Matteo Renzi to form a new government.
Napolitano's request today follows the resignation of former Prime Minister Enrico Letta last week.
Renzi said he will begin official consultations to form a new government in the next 24 hours.
He expects to lay out full reforms to Italy's electoral law and political institutions by the end of February, to be followed by labour reforms in March, an overhaul of the public administration in April and a tax reform in May.
Separately, Moody's lifted its outlook on Italy's credit rating late last Friday, citing the government's resilient financial strength and reduced risk from contingent liabilities.
The agency affirmed Italy's 'Baa2' rating, which is two notches above junk bond status and raised the outlook to stable from negative.
Moody's also noted that it expects Italy's debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to peak this year "at below 135% in its central scenario in which modest economic growth resumes".
However, the credit rating agency mentioned that the resignation of Letta and the likely takeover by Renzi does not alter its expectations.
UK house prices, Japan GDP
UK house prices rose in February as demand continued to outpace supply, according to estate agency Rightmove on Monday.
The average asking prices of homes was £251.964 this month, up 3.3% on January and the strongest monthly increase since October 2012. On the year, prices were up 6.9% from February, the sharpest gain since November 2007.
In Japan, GDP rose by 0.3% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months when it climbed 0.2%. Economists had pencilled in an increase of 0.8%. Annualised GDP rose 1%, compared to 11% in the third quarter and a forecast of 2.8%.
In the US, trading is closed today for Presidents' Day.
Eurozone finance ministers to meet in Brussels
Eurozone finance ministers will meet up in Brussels on Monday to continue discussions on the banking union and the economic situation in the region.
The Eurogroup is scheduled to begin its meeting on Monday at 13:00 London time with a press conference to be held at the end of the meeting at approximately 15:30.
In other Eurozone news, economists are split on their forecasts over whether the European Central Bank (ECB) will change its policy next month.
ECB President Mario Draghi has signalled that he may act to counter low inflation as soon as March when he gets his hands on the release of more clear economic data.
Nineteen out of 38 responses in the Bloomberg Monthly Survey of economists predicted Draghi will ease monetary policy when officials hold their monthly rate-setting meeting in March.
SGL Carbon, Morpho
SGL Carbon edged higher after Bayerische Motoren Werke said it is building a second production hall at a factory jointly run with the maker of carbon materials to prepare for rising demand for carbon fibre.
MorphoSys AG gained as the German biotechnology company said it received a milestone payment from Novartis in connection with a clinical trial application and projected initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial.
Polymetal International and Randgold Resources advanced as the price of gold, silver and copper rose.
Neste Oil Oyj dropped after Nordea Bank AB reduced its rating on the stock to 'hold' from 'buy'.
Bouygues slumped after the French construction and telecommunications company said it will take a writedown in the fourth quarter of €1.4bn.
The euro increased 0.10% to $1.3707.
Brent crude futures fell $0.211 to $108.850 per barrel, according to the ICE.