European Stocks Lower, Hang Seng Declines Amid Political Unrest

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks drifted lower on Monday, as a fall in euro-area economic confidence cast further doubts about the pace of recovery, while continued political unrest in Hong Kong weighed on the country's benchmark index. 

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.36% at 6,625.46, while in Frankfurt the DAX retreated 0.26% to 9,465.53. In Paris, the CAC 40 backtracked 0.44% to 4,375.21. 

More bad news about the eurozone economy came Monday from the European Commission's monthly index of executive and consumer sentiment, which dropped 0.7 points to 99.99 points in September, its lowest since December. 

Later Monday, investors will be looking to the U.S. for clues about the state of the world's largest economy, where reports are due out from the Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors. 

In London, U.K. infrastructure services company Balfour Beatty (BAFYY) slumped 21.21% to 177.20 pence after announcing a further profit shortfall of around 75 million pounds at its U.K. construction services unit. 

It also said it has appointed KPMG to conduct a detailed independent review of the contract portfolio within that same unit due to be completed by the end of the year. Trading across the rest of the group remains in line with expectations, it said. 

The company is an advanced stage to appoint a successor to CEO Steve Marshall, and will review its final dividend for 2014 in light of the pending $1.242 billion sale of engineering consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff to Canada's WSP Global agreed earlier this month. 

In Frankfurt, RWE shed 2.81% after Germany's largest power company said U.K. regulators had not yet approved its plan to sell oil and gas business RWE DEA to a consortium of Russian investors. 

While it's still uncertain whether the U.K.'s Department of Energy and Climate Change will issue a so-called comfort letter, the companies involved continue to work towards closing the transaction, RWE said. The deal, which has an enterprise value of 5.1 billion euros , got the green light from the German government in August. 

The corporate news was not all bad. In Paris, Air France-KLM  (AFLYY) shares gained 1.44%, a day before the flight schedule is to return to normal following last week's strike that ground about half of its weekend service. 

The carrier released a statement Sunday welcoming the end of the strike action, which it said was costly and damaging, but confirmed its decision to continue to accelerated development of low-cost unit Transavia in France -- which it said will quickly create 1,000 jobs in France, including 250 for pilots. 

In Asia, the dominant story was in Hong Kong, where the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.9% to 23,229.21, recovering somewhat after falling as much as 2.5% in its biggest drop since February, amid continued violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police. Demonstrators vowed to continue with demonstrations until the city's top leader, Leung Chun-ying, resigns and gives in to their demands for democratic elections to choose his successor. 

HSBC Holdings (HBC)  fell 1.77% in Hong Kong, while Standard Chartered fell 2.54%, after the banks were forced by the protesters to close branches in Hong Kong. 

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