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Europe shares close lower; Ukraine in focus

European shares closed lower on Monday as sentiment remained subdued due to the ongoing turmoil in Gaza and Ukraine.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed lower by 0.5 percent at 1,356 points, with the majority of sectors and European bourses in negative territory.

The U.K.'s benchmark FTSE 100 closed unofficially down 0.2 percent. The German DAX index and French CAC-40 closed down by 1.0 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Shares of Tesco closed 1.3 percent higher after the U.K.'s biggest retailer said Chief Executive Philip Clarke was quitting after a profit warning was issued.

Swiss private banking group Julius Baer saw its shares close 8.3 percent higher after its first-half results. The company also announced it was due to buy the Swiss private banking unit of Israeli lender Leumi.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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Despite the rise in some individual stocks, sentiment across the continent remained negative.

The downing of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing Flight MH17 on the Ukraine-Russia border was in focus. In eastern Ukraine, fighting flared in Donetsk as international inspectors attempted to inspect the remains of the 298 victims killed in the crash.

U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated demands on Monday for Russian President Vladimir Putin to authorize full access to the crash site or face further sanctions, as "compelling" evidence builds that pro-Russian separatists supplied by Moscow shot down the plane by mistake.

Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called on the European Union to toughen sanctions against Moscow should it be proven that separatists were responsible.

Read MoreUK's Cameron calls for EU to toughen up on Russia

In the Middle East, Sunday proved to be one of bloodiest days in the two-week Israel-Gaza fighting. Despite heavy casualties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that military operations could be expanded.

In his speech in parliament on Monday, Cameron blamed Hamas for triggering the incursion into Gaza by firing rockets at Israel.

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