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Major European Markets Settle Lower

The major European markets ended weak on Monday, with investors largely making cautious moves, looking ahead to the European Central Bank's policy meeting on Thursday and tracking news on the Brexit front.

With data from China showing an unexpected drop in exports, last week's jobs report from the U.S. a bit disappointing and a report from Sentix suggesting an imminent recession in the euro area, markets are hoping for additional stimulus from global central banks.

The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 0.28%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended down 0.64% and France's CAC 40 eased 0.27%, while Germany's DAX advanced 0.28%. Switzerland's SMI ended lower by 0.14%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey closed higher. Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine declined, while Norway, Czech Republic, Italy and Portugal ended flat.

In the U.K. market, Hikma Pharma, Rentokil, AstraZeneca, Coca Cola, Fresnillo, Barratt Developments, Just Eat, Relx, Unilever, Diageo and Associated British Foods lost 2 to 4%.

IAG shares declined by about 1.6% after British Airways pilots went ahead with a strike that resulted in the airways cancelling nearlly all its flights.

Intu Properties soared on reports private equity firm Orion Capital has evinced interest in buying a stake in the company.

Aviva, Carnival, RBS, Prudential, NMC Health, Kingfisher, Standard Chartered, Standard Life, ITV, Phoenix and HSBC closed higher by 1 to 3%.

In France, Pernod Ricard declined nearly 3.5%. Sanofi, Dassault Systemes, Danone, Essilor, Hermes International and Capgemini lost 1.4 to 3%.

Shares of Air France KLM declined sharply after the airliner reported weak traffic figures for August. The stock shed about 9.7%.

On the other hand, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Peugeot, Michelin, ArcelorMittal, Credit Agricole, Renault and Technip gained 2 to 4%. Carrefour, AXS, Publicis Groupe, Saint Gobai and STMicroElectronics also closed on a strong note.

In the German market, HeidelbergCement, Continental and Deutsche Bank gained 3 to 3.7%. Infineon, Volkswagen, Covestro, Daimler, BMW, Muench.Rueckvers, BASF and Allianz also posted notable gains.

Shares of German media firm Prosiebensat.1 rose 5% thanks to a rating upgrade of the stock by UBS.

Vonovia, Beiersdorf, Merck, RWE and Linde declined sharply.

Shares of Danish lender Danske Bank moved up nearly 10%. Sweden's Swdebank and Finnish financial major Nordea Bank moved up more than 5%.

In economic news, Germany's exports increased 0.7% month-on-month in July, reversing a 0.1% fall in June. Meanwhile, imports decreased 1.5% in the month, after rising 0.7% in June.

Exports were forecast to fall 0.5% on month and imports to drop 0.3%.

The Bank of France retained its growth forecast for the third quarter today amid an improvement in confidence in the manufacturing sector.

The results of a monthly survey by the behavioral research institute Sentix showed the euro area investor confidence index climbed to -11.1 from -13.7 in August. Economists had forecast a score of -13.4.

The current situation index of the survey dropped to -9.5 from -7.3 in August. The index fell for a fourth straight month to hit its lowest level since January 2015. The expectations measure climbed to a three-month high of -12.8 from -20.

"The economic situation in Euroland remains tense," Sentix said. "A look at the situation values, which have slipped even deeper into the red, shows that the Euro zone is not far from a recession," the think tank added.

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