Stock brokers work at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
London - AFP
European stocks fell on Monday on weak manufacturing data and the fast-moving Ukraine crisis, as the ruble hit a record dollar low on worries over new Western sanctions against Russia.
The euro struck a one-year low against the US currency before Thursday's European Central Bank (ECB) meeting where policymakers will consider their next move to counter the threat of deflation in the eurozone.
In midday deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 0.10 percent to 6,812.65 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index shed 0.19 percent to 9,451.82 points and the Paris CAC 40 dipped 0.34 percent to 4,365.64 compared with Friday's close.
The ruble slumped to a new record low of 37.3910 to the US dollar on Monday, after EU Commission head Jose Manual Barroso warned on Saturday that the crisis was reaching "the point of no return" amid ongoing fighting in Ukraine.
- Eurozone manufacturing sector falters -
Investor sentiment was also hurt on Monday by news of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in eurozone manufacturing activity.
Markit's purchasing managers' index (PMI) measure of output in the eurozone's manufacturing sector fell to a figure of 50.7 in August, according to the final estimate.
That was still above the 50-point signalling growth or downturn. It compared with the prior flash reading of 50.8, and a figure of 51.8 in July.
"Although readings of above 50 are generally seen as positive, this figure provides further ammunition for those criticising (ECB chief) Mario Draghi for failing to announce proper quantitative easing measures for the eurozone," said ETX Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman.
"However at the Jackson Hole economic symposium a week ago Mr Draghi hinted at a preparedness to take further steps should the eurozone economy continue to worsen."
In addition, the Italian manufacturing sector joined France in registering a contraction, while German factories experienced their most sluggish month since September 2013.
In Zurich, shares in pharmaceutical group Novartis rose 3.64 percent to 85.35 Swiss francs on trial data showing the potential effectiveness of a new treatment LCZ696 for heart conditions.
In earlier Asian trading hours, the European single currency slid to $1.3119 -- a level last seen on September 6, 2013 -- on expectations of monetary easing this week.
Eurozone inflation eased to 0.3 percent in August, official data showed last week, raising concerns the 18-nation bloc is about to tip into deflation.
The data have put pressure on the ECB to take fresh steps at its policy meeting Thursday, a move that would tend to weaken the unit.
"Speculation for the ECB to consider more aggressive policy action this week has increased considerably after (bank chief Mario) Draghi indicated downside risks to long-term inflation expectations last week," Credit Agricole said.
- Close eye on geopolitics -
Investors were also keeping a close eye on geopolitical developments, with concerns increasing that Russia and Ukraine are on a collision course.
"Geopolitical risk will likely continue to overshadow the market in the days ahead, especially given the one-week deadline set by the EU for Russia to scale back operations in Ukraine or face more sanctions," added Credit Agricole.
Later on Monday, the single currency recovered slightly to stand at $1.3145, up from $1.3139 late in New York on Friday.
The euro eased to 79.07 pence from 79.13 pence late in New York on Friday, while the pound rose to $1.6621 from $1.6602.
The price of gold firmed to $1,289.12 an ounce, from $1,285 75 on Friday on the London Bullion Market.