) -- European markets were relatively stable Monday morning, despite the return to work of traders and brokers across the region after the Christmas break. However, the Spanish services sector started well as the country scored 54.2 on the latest Markit purchasing managers' index for services, ahead of Germany's 53.5 and Spain's best since July 2007. France and Italy, by contrast, scored below the 50-point threshold, denoting further decline in services activity there.
In London, the big riser was
RSA Insurance, up over 7% as fears receded that further cash injections might be needed at its troubled Irish subsidiary, while retail bellwether
Marks & Spencer lost further ground as the market prepared for likely bad news on Christmas sales when the group delivers its quarterly earnings report on Wednesday.
The FTSE 100 was slightly down at 6724.19, while in Paris the CAC40 was roughly flat at 4248. In Germany, the DAX bounced back from early lows and was up slightly at 9442, still a long way from its end of December highs of over 9500. Madrid's Ibex 35 Composite was up 0.52% at 9849.4.
In Asia, new figures confirmed China's services sector is growing more slowly than at any time since August 2011, pushing down the markets in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. In Japan, on Tokyo's first day of trading after the long New Year's break, the stronger yen was a factor hurting export stocks. The Nikkei 225 closed down 2.35% at 15.908.88