European shares closed lower on Monday as tensions over Syria and monetary policy continued to dominate the agenda.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed lower by 0.2 percent at 1,227.35 points, with key European indexes pointing in different directions. Worries about further conflict in Syria continued, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied authorizing a chemical weapons attack on his own country.
Despite this, Secretary of State John Kerry said al-Assad could prevent a U.S.-led military strike by handing over all chemical weapons by next week, speaking on a global tour to muster support for intervention.
As expectations receded of an imminent U.S. strike in Syria following Kerry's comments, European stocks were led down by oil stocks which tracked crude prices lower. Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Repsol were down by between 0.7 and 1.3 percent.
(Read More: Syria 'could avoid strike by handing over weapons' )
The debate over the gradual conclusion of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary easing policy continued over the weekend, with International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde telling CNBC that the Fed could not ignore emerging markets as it brings the policy to an end.
(Read More: Fed can't afford to ignore emerging markets: Lagarde)
Nonetheless, U.S. stocks bounced higher on Monday, with the Dow hitting the psychologically-significant 15,000 level, lifted by upbeat economic data from China
Trading in Asian markets on Monday showed small gains, after better-than-expected data suggested that China's economy is stabilizing. The yen fell after Tokyo won the contest to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
"Data out of China indicated that inflation remained subdued while exports data released Sunday showed a better increase than forecast, painting a better outlook for the second half of 2013 than previously anticipated," Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist at EXT Capital said in a morning note.
(Read More: China's inflation data add to optimism, shares rise)
Italian stocks bucked the European downward trend, with Milan's FTSE MIB up 0.9 percent, as investors bet it could take weeks before a special Italian Senate committee reaches a decision about the possible expulsion of Silvio Berlusconi from parliament.
Greek stocks also continued a four-day winning streak, with the ASE Composite closing up 4 percent higher.
(Read More: EU backs Monte Paschi capital hike plans)
In stocks news, shares in Italian car maker Fiat rose over 6 percent after its top management pulled out of the Frankfurt car show, fuelling speculation it may be close to a deal to buy out the rest of its U.S. unit Chrysler.
Shares of homebuilder Barratt Developments rose by 4.35 percent after an upgrade by Panmure Research.
Shares of energy group BG Group fell by 5 percent after a disappointing production update on Monday.
Shares of Christian Dior rose by 2.84 percent after it announced that it was due to repurchase its own shares.
Shares of pharma GSK were lower by 0.66 percent on Monday after the company announced it will sell its Lucozade and Ribena drinks brands for $2.11 billion.
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