European stocks fell on Monday as traders took profit on 14-month highs, ushering in a period of consolidation and waiting for further progress in crisis-hit Spain before committing more money to the recent rally.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European shares provisionally closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,115.85 points after hitting highs not seen since July 2011 on Friday, boosted by stimulus pledges by the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The euro zone blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index was 0.5 percent lower at 2,582.42 points after triggering a technical "sell" signal in the previous session by failing to break above a strong resistance at 2,611 points, a peak hit in mid-March.
"If you're trading, these are good levels to play for a correction, also considering no further key announcement is due in the short term, but I would be very careful and lock in profit quickly," a pan-European, Milan-based broker said.
"It depends on what kind of investor you are. If you're a fund manager I would remain in the market as it seems to me there is no scope for sharp downside moves."
Spain must formally ask for a bailout and agree to stringent terms before the European Central Bank can start buying the country's bonds and some doubts remained over when Madrid would make a move.