European stocks were lower on Monday, as tensions in Ukraine continued to weigh, although comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi lent some support to European equities.
During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 edged 0.09% lower, France’s CAC 40 dipped 0.05%, while Germany’s DAX slid 0.42%.
Markets were jittery after Ukraine said it plans to launch a 'full-scale anti-terrorist operation' involving the army against the rebels. The comments came after a group of separatists took control of the Ukrainian city of Slaviansk on Saturday.
In response, the United Nations Security Council kicked off an emergency meeting early on Monday to discuss the crisis.
Equities found support after Draghi said a further appreciation in the euro would trigger additional monetary easing to keep inflation from falling too low.
'A strengthening of the exchange rate requires further monetary stimulus. That is an important dimension for our price stability,' he said. The comments came at a news conference on Saturday, during meetings of the International Monetary Fund.
Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) slipped 0.27% and 0.66%, while Germany's Commerzbank (CBKG.XETRA) tumbled 1.29%.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) and Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) fell 0.28% and 0.29% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) plummeted 0.89% and 2.27%.
Elsewhere, the world’s biggest sea-freight forwarder Kuehne & Nagel (HELN.S) reported first-quarter sales that missed estimates, sending shares down 1.46%.
Symrise (SY1G.XETRA) added to losses, with shares plunging 2.42% after the German producer of flavors and fragrances offered to buy Diana Group, a French food ingredient maker.
In London, FTSE 100 eased 0.07%, led by Easyjet (EZJ.LSE), down 1.76%, amid reports the budget airline is looking to move its 8,000 employees onto Workday's Human Capital Management software in a deal it hopes will better manage its workforce.
Financial stocks were also mostly lower, as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) edged down 0.10% and Barclays (BARC.LSE) dropped 0.40%, while Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) tumbled 0.99%. HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) overperformed on the other hand, rising 0.26%.
In the mining sector, stocks were broadly higher. Shares in Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) and Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) gained 0.20% and 0.36% respectively, while rivals Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE) and Antofagasta (ANTO.LSE) jumped 1.76% and 1.77%.
Glencore Xstrata found support after selling its stake in the Las Bambas copper mine in Peru.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.04% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.07% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.02% dip.
Later in the day, the euro zone was to release data on industrial production, while the U.S. was to produce data on retail sales.