European stocks markets struggled to stay in positive territory on Monday, as a key indicator of German business sentiment fell to its lowest level since March 2010.
In choppy late morning trade, the Frankfurt DAX 30 index of leading shares was up by 0.19 percent at 6,984.51 points, while the Paris CAC 40 had edged 0.12 percent higher to 3,436.64 points in light trading.
The London Stock exchange was closed for a bank holiday.
In Milan the FTSE MIB index was up by 0.17 percent, while Madrid's IBEX 35 had fallen by 0.48 percent.
Spain officially downgraded on Monday its already feeble economic performance for 2010 and 2011, noting that activity expanded by just 0.4 percent last year, not the 0.7 percent previously stated.
In Germany, the Ifo measure of business confidence has fallen for four months running as Europe's biggest economy shows signs of being affected more and more by the eurozone crisis.
"The German economy is continuing to falter," Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn noted, as "companies expressed greater pessimism regarding future business developments."
Although it still manages to post slim growth rates, a raft of recent economic data, ranging from foreign trade statistics to industrial orders, new car registrations and investor confidence, suggests that momentum is fading.
The European common currency bought $1.2528 and 98.59 yen, compared with $1.2512 and 98.43 yen in New York late on Friday.
In Asia meanwhile, stocks mostly edged lower despite hopes for new US easing measures as shares in electronics giant Samsung plunged after a legal setback in a high-stakes patent dispute with arch-rival Apple.
Markets were rife with speculation over possible fresh stimulus in the world's biggest economy after minutes released last week from the Federal Reserve showed US central bankers worried about slowing growth.
Hong Kong stocks ended down 0.41 percent, or 81.36 points, to 19,798.67, Sydney slipped 0.12 percent, or 5.2 points, to 4,343.7.
Shanghai ended down 1.74 percent, or 36.39 points, to 2,055.71, while Seoul was down 0.10 percent, dragged down by the sharp fall in Samsung shares, which lost 7.5 percent, the biggest single-day percentage drop the firm has seen in nearly four years.
In over the counter trading in Germany, Apple shares showed a jump of 2.06 percent to 542.45 euros, while stock in Finnish competitor Nokia leapt by 11 percent to 2.77 percent on the Helsinki stock exchange.
A California jury last week said that Samsung had infringed on half a dozen patents held by Apple.
Tokyo bucked the general trend, climbing 0.16 percent to 9,085.39 points.
Back in Europe, trading was muted owing to the lack of action in London.
Meanwhile, "the market is waiting for details on central banks and corporate results," said Xavier de Villepion, a trader at Global Equities.
Aurel BGC analysts added that "US monetary policy will be the dominant theme this week."
US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is to address an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with markets anticipating details on how the Fed might encourage economic activity in the world's biggest economy.
On Friday in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.77 percent, while the broad-based S&P 500-stock index rose by 0.65 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.54 percent.