European Markets Slide on Weak French Data

Weak economic data from France Monday overshadowed the latest sign that China's economic growth is back on track, putting pressure on European stocks.

The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.6% in early trade as French manufacturing and services data, which indicated a sharper-than-expected contraction in both sectors, weighed on markets.

Data for the euro-zone as a whole are due later Monday morning.

The decline came despite Chinese data, which pointed to expansion in the manufacturing sector for the first time in six months, boosting stocks across Asia.

HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers index for June rose to 50.8, compared with a final reading of 49.4 in May, putting it above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction.

"The numbers suggest China's data momentum is finally picking up and growth is stabilizing," said Jan von Gerich, a fixed income strategist at Nordea.

Other major European indexes also fell, with gains for mining stocks, which are highly sensitive to Chinese demand, more than offset by weakness elsewhere. The Stoxx Europe 600 basic resources sub-index climbed 0.7%.

In currency markets, the Australian dollar was the main beneficiary of the Chinese data, rising 0.5% against the U.S. dollar to $0.943.

Elsewhere, Russian shares and the ruble both gained after Russia's President Vladimir Putin expressed his support for a recently declared cease-fire by Ukrainian government troops.

Mr. Putin stopped short of saying that Russia would try to rein in the separatists it has been accused of arming.

The MICEX index added 0.7% while and the Russian currency strengthened 0.5% to 34.29 to the dollar.

In commodities markets, oil prices remained elevated amid continuing turmoil in Iraq. Brent crude added 0.5% to trade at $115.39 a barrel, close to last week's nine-month high.

Gold was little-changed at $1,316.60 an ounce.