LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks were mixed on Monday as BHP Billiton (BHP) dragged miners lower in London,and general optimism the European Central Bank will take action on interest rates on economic stimulus later this week.
In London, the FTSE was 0.36% lower at 6,452.29, while in Paris the CAC 40 inched up 4,940.08. In Frankfurt, the DAX added 0.57% to 11,358.18.
BHP Billiton slumped 5.45% on expectations of a rising bill for a dam collapse at its Samarco iron-ore venture co-owned with Vale. According to the latest reports, Brazil may seek as much as 20 billion reals ($5.2 billion) in compensation.
The stock was the morning's biggest decliner in London, dragging other miners down including Anglo American (AAUKY) , which was 2.37% lower, Randgold Resources (GOLD - Get Report) , down 1.65%, and Lonmin (LNMIF) , down 1.68%.
Overall, declines were tempered by expectations that the ECB will deliver a pre-holiday package of rate cuts and additional stimulus measures at this week's monetary-policy pow-wow in Frankfurt, prompting one over-excited economist to proclaim, "Santa Mario [Draghi] is coming to Euroland."
Among other decliners, Abderdeen Asset Management (ABDNF) retreated 4.5% after the company posted fourth-quarter results. Assets under management at year-end fell to GBP 283.7 billion ($426.06 billion) from GBP 324.4 billion a year earlier.
CEO Martin Gilbert said that while a cyclical correction in Asian and emerging markets and resulting negative investor sentiment led to further flows from the equities business, "the long-term fundamental attractions of these investing in these high-growth economies remain compelling for patient investors." He added that the company would stick with its strategy of diversifying and managing costs.
Several stocks fell on ratings downgrades.
Pennon Group erased 2.15% after Investec lowered its recommendation on the water utility and waste management firm from buy to hold.
Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) fell 1.20, while Scottish energy company SSE lost 1.92%, after both stocks were cut to underperform by Sanford C. Bernstein.
In Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd (DLLLF) was down more than 4% after the insurer announced plans to raise up to €1 billion ($1.06 billion) in a right issue to meet stricter capital requirements for insurers known as Solvency II due to take effect in January.
Delta Lloyd said it expects to launch the rights issue shortly after publishing 2015 full-year results on Feb. 24, subject to a shareholder vote at an extraodinary general meeting ahead of the launch.
Not all the corporate news was bleak.
In Frankfurt, Deutsche Lufthansa (DLAKF) gained a bit of altitude -- rising 2.18% by late morning local time -- a day after the carrier reached a pay and retirement agreement with the Verdi union on behalf of ground crew, technical and cargo employees. Negotiations with flight attendants and pilots are still ongoing, with threats of further strike action.
Asian stocks were mostly lower, with the Hang Seng slipping 0.33% in Hong Kong to 21,996.42 and the Nikkei shedding 0.69% to 19,747.47 in Tokyo.