Europe stocks close lower but Ryanair shares soar

European shares closed lower on Monday, with investors focused on corporate earnings as well as developments in Ukraine and Gaza.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed provisionally lower by 0.2 percent at 1,369 points, after opening the session in positive territory. The French CAC was the only major bourse posting gains, ending up unofficially 0.4 percent.

Gaza in focus

Investors continued to monitor geopolitical risks. In Gaza, fighting restarted after a 24-hour humanitarian truce for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. Palestinian medics reported on Monday that a huge explosion in a public garden in northern Gaza had killed 10 people, according to Reuters. More than 1,000 people have been killed so far in the 20-day conflict.

Elsewhere, the European Union agreed to impose economic sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis. The outline agreement was reached on Friday but did not include any penalties on the energy sector. Moscow said the sanctions would hamper cooperation on global security issues, according to Reuters. Russia's benchmark MICEX index closed down around 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile, data released on Monday morning showed that Italian business confidence fell in July, missing forecasts. The index sank to its lowest level since March. The Italian FTSEMIB benchmark index closed provisionally down 0.6 percent.

In China, data at the weekend showed industrial profits in the country strengthened in the first half of the year compared to 2013. Shanghai equities jumped over 2 percent to seven-month highs on the news.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average was having its first four-day losing streak in nearly five months, down well over 1 percent over the last four days. The Nasdaq was also down for the third day in a row for the first time in nearly two months and the broader S&P 500 was having its first back-to-back losses in almost three weeks.

Ryanair flies high

Airline Ryanair rose to near the top of the region's benchmarks. The Irish company's shares closed 3.0 percent higher as it boosted its annual profit guidance on Monday after booking a better-than-expected first quarter.

Read MoreRyanair takes off with profit guidance

Shares of Reckitt Benckiser jumped to close roughly 2.7 percent higher after the consumer goods firm said it was hoping to spin off its pharma division.

Meanwhile, shares of the Spanish lender Bankia closed up roughly 1.3 percent after it announced a near-doubling of net profit for its second quarter on Monday.

However, Aberdeen Asset Management's shares slipped to close down around 5.3 percent after it reported that a client's withdrawal of £4.2 billion ($7.1 billion) had dented its latest quarterly earnings.

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