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European equities close higher: miners weigh

European equities closed higher on Monday, still posting gains after a rally on U.S. jobs data last Friday, although import data from China - the world's biggest metals consumer - came in below forecasts and forced mining stocks lower.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
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FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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The FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed slightly higher by 0.2 percent at 1,273.11 points.

Weekend data showed that China's exports had beaten forecasts in November with a 12.7 percent rise, and news that Chinese annual inflation slowed to 3 percent in November from 3.2 percent saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite rise above 2,240 points to a near three-month high.

These signs eased fears of any imminent policy tightening, helping to sustain a rally in global shares which had been fuelled by estimate-beating jobs data from the United States on Friday.

However, China's imports came in below expectations. Imports rose 5.3 percent, below a forecast of 7.2 percent, and were seen denting the demand outlook for miners.

Last Friday's non-farm payrolls report showed 203,000 jobs were created in the U.S. in November, much more than expected, which fueled a rally in stock markets at the end of the week. The jobless rate fell to a five-year low, while other data showed consumer confidence hit a five-month high.

Experts say November's robust employment figures could lead the U.S. Federal Reserve to reduce its bond-buying program in the near future. Despite those fears, U.S. stocks traded mildly higher on Monday, awaiting speeches by several Fed officials.

(Read more: Track US markets live with CNBC)

Stock news

Back in Europe, the Italian FTSE MIB traded closed higher by 0.9 percent, boosted by a rise in shares of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS), after the bank's top investor said he would vote against a planned rights issue.

Among the best performers on the London-based FTSE 100, which closed up 0.2 percent, were insurer Aviva, up 2.26 percent and international Airlines Group, IAG, up 2.37 percent. The FTSE had posted its strongest gain in two months last Friday after U.S. jobs data.

Shares of bank HSBC were trading down 0.23 percent after a report in the Financial Times newspaper that the bank was considering floating up to 30 percent of its U.K. retail and commercial banking arm in order to meet planned new rules that demand that British banks ringfence their retail arms.

(Read more: HSBC UK spin-off will have to join the queue)

In stocks news, shares of GDF Suez closed higher by 2.03 percent after Merrill Lynch raised its rating on the French power company's stock to buy from neutral.

Chilean-based copper mining group Antofagasta was trading down 0.975 percent after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the stock to underweight.

Vedanta Resources is set to drop out of the FTSE 100 altogether, ceding its place to recently privatised Royal Mail and underlining the mining sector's waning influence in the index, on a bad day for mining stocks overall.

Vedanta shares dropped 2.72 percent, and it would become the third miner demoted from the index this year, after Kazakh firms Kazakhmys and Eurasian Natural Resources Company.

Towards the end of the day, European aerospace group EADS, which owns Airbus, announced plans to cut 5,800 jobs at its defense and space unit by the end of 2016. In a statement, EADS said it would embark upon "substantial consolidation" across sites in Germany, France, Spain and the U.K. as part of its restructuring plan, which it presented to the company's European Works Council Monday.

Shares in EADS closed higher by 0.82 percent.

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