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European Markets Finish Lower After Early Gains Erode

The European markets got off to a positive start Monday after the Asian markets posted gains overnight. However, early gains in Europe quickly began to erode as investors turned cautious.

Traders were reluctant to make significant moves as they keep a close eye on high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China in Beijing.

The continued partial shutdown of the U.S. government also weighed on investor sentiment. Weekend meetings reportedly made little progress toward ending the impasse over funding for President Donald Trump's controversial border wall.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index weakened 0.15 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks decreased 0.28 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, lost 0.71 percent.

The DAX of Germany dropped 0.18 percent and the CAC of France fell 0.38 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.39 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished lower by 0.84 percent.

Eurozone retail sales grew for a second straight month in November and at a faster-than-expected pace, supported by lower oil prices and rising wages.

Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent from October, when sales increased at the same pace, figures from Eurostat showed Monday. October sales growth was earlier reported as 0.3 percent. Economists had forecast 0.2 percent growth.

Eurozone's investor confidence deteriorated for a fifth straight month in January to its lowest level in over four years, but the easing was less severe than expected, survey data from the behavioral research institute Sentix showed on Monday.

The Sentix investor confidence index dropped to -1.5 from -0.3, marking the lowest level since December 2014. Economists had forecast a score of -2 for January.

Germany's manufacturing new orders decreased for the first time in four months in November and the fall was worse than expected, preliminary data from Destatis showed on Monday.

Factory orders decreased a calendar and seasonally adjusted 1 percent from October, when they grew 0.2 percent, revised from 0.3 percent reported earlier. Economists had forecast a modest decline of 0.1 percent.

Germany's retail sales grew at the fastest pace in seven months in November, exceeding economists' expectations, preliminary data from Destatis showed on Monday.

Retail sales rose a calendar and seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent from October, when they edged up 0.1 percent, revised from a 0.3 percent fall. Economists had expected a 0.4 percent increase.

Germany's construction sector expanded at the fastest pace in seven months in December, led by strong growth in housing activity.

The German Construction Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, rose to 53.3 from November's 51.3, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Monday.

A report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday showed growth in U.S. service sector activity slowed by more than anticipated in the month of December. The ISM said its non-manufacturing index dropped to 57.6 in December after inching up to 60.7 in November.

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