LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets were mixed in early trading on Monday, with the mood dampened by fears of a slowdown in the Chinese property market which hit sectors, especially mining, with exposure to Chinese economic fundamentals.
But spirits were lifted for a time by an unexpectedly positive reading of German business confidence from the influential Ifo Institute. Its monthly index hit 111.3 - stronger than the 110.6 seen in January and the best reading since July 2011. Meanwhile, the Spanish market reacted positively to a Moody's upgrade at the end of last week. Falling bond yields translated into stronger stock prices. But while Frankfurt and Paris seesawed, the euphoria was soon over and the glum mood returned. and in London, with its big contingent of mining stocks on the main FTSE 100 index, the only way from the beginning of the morning was down.
The FTSE in London was down 0.5% at 6,804, Paris was also down 0.5% at 4,379 and Frankfurt was down 0.2% at 9637.
Looking at individual stocks, German car maker Volkswagen was one of the big movers of the morning. The stock tumbled 6.44% to 188.05 euros as the market got its first chance to react to VW's announcement late on Friday it plans to spend over $9 billion buying up the part of Swedish truckmaker Scania that it does not already own. The same announcement boosted Scania, of course, which was up over 34% at 194.4 Swedish kronor, still less than VW's Skr200 offer.
In London, the biggest faller was global bank HSBC, which announced, weaker than expected pretax profits this morning at $22.6 billion. The London-based bank fell 3.5% to 630 pence a share. But the mining industry took hits across the board, with Anglo American down nearly 2% at 1,530.5 pence, Rio Tinto (RIO) down 1.7% at 1,539.5 pence and Glencore Xstrata down over 1% at 335.4 pence.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.19% at 14,837.68, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.8% at 22,388.56 and the Shanghai Composite fell 1.75% to 2,076.69