LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets traded cautiously on Monday morning following weakness in New York on Friday, the release of new figures showing a further slowdown in China, and continuing tensions in Ukraine. The HSBC purchasing manager's index for March showed the manufacturing sector in China, the world's second-largest economy, slowed for the third month in a row and the fall seems more to do with domestic than global demand, as export orders expanded.
However, some analysts believe the slowdown might push China to introduce new expansionary measures to meet its 7.5% growth target. That helped markets around the region. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 251 points at 14,475 and the Hang Seng was ahead 410 points at 21,846.
In London, can maker Rexam was down 0.22% at 493.50 pence, despite news that Berry Plastics (BERY - Get Report), of Evansville, Ind., has offered $135 million to buy its Healthcare Containers & Closures division. That's all that remains of the Healthcare division after an agreement to sell the rest earlier this year.
Frankfurt is the market most worried about the Crimea this morning, as the heads of the G7 industrialized nations meet Monday to discuss possible further sanctions on Russia. The DAX was down mid-morning by 0.67% at 9.279,88, not helped by a 1.9% fall to 18.95 euros for the national airline Lufthansa, which is facing possible strike action by airport staff this Thursday. But Lufthansa's smaller rival Air Berlin took off to the top of the smaller-cap SDAX index this morning after a magazine article suggested it might soon be taken private and that Middle Eastern airline Etihad has plans to increase its stake from 30% to 49%.
In London, the FTSE was down 0.32% at 6,537 while in Paris the CAC40 was also down 0.73% at 4,304. The March Markit economic activity and manufacturing index numbers the eurozone, were slightly down compared with February, but the agency said that the first quarter still looked set to be the best for economic growth in the region since the second quarter of 2011.