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European markets close lower; Fillon apologizes for 'Penelopegate'; Randgold Resources up 4%

European markets closed lower on Monday as investor concerns increased amid political instability in France and the U.S.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.68 percent lower with almost all sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Autos were the worst-performing sector on Monday, down by more than 1.4 percent, despite data earlier showing that car sales rose 2.9 percent in January in the U.K. – the highest level since 2005. Bank of America warned Monday that profit margins could drop on the back of Brexit and uncertainty over Trump's tax policy.

French 10-year bond yields spiked to 17-month highs after increasing political uncertainty over the outcome of the upcoming Presidential election. French center-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon told supporters he would continue to fight allegations of political scandal on Monday. He had faced calls from within his own party to step down, however insisted he had nothing to hide.

Basic resources edged lower on Monday after earnings news. The gold mining business Randgold Resources ended among the best performers in the European benchmark, up by over 4.1 percent after reporting a 76 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profits. Glencore has reportedly extended a deal with Libya's state oil company to ensure it is the sole marketer for one-third of the current crude oil production in the country, Reuters reported.

The Swiss firm DKSH closed 8.8 percent higher after reporting an increase of 4.5 percent in full year sales.

Meanwhile. in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average pared earlier losses to trade around the flatline on Monday after recording its best day since the New Year in the previous session.

Ryanair said Monday that average fares dropped in the last quarter of 2016, but guaranteed that it was still on track to deliver an increase in annual profits. It shares however dropped over 3.7 percent.

Sweden's Hexagon closed 1.2 percent lower after weak fourth-quarter results. Reuters reported that the firm is considering two new names for chairman and vice chairman.

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In Italy, UniCredit has started its 13 billion euro ($14 billion) cash call. However, its shares closed at the bottom of the European benchmark, down by more than 6.8 percent. Meanwhile, the Italian insurer Generali is holding a meeting Monday to decide on its stake of Intesa Sanpaolo. The uncertainty sent its shares down by 2.3 percent.

Back in the U.K., Barclays is reportedly implementing new back office rules to cope with new ring-fencing rules. Its shared ended 0.6 percent lower.

More than half, 58 percent, of leaders of the 500 largest U.K.-listed companies say Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU) has had a negative impact on their business, according to a poll released Sunday.

Elsewhere, President Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank (ECB) rejected claims that Germany or the ECB are currency manipulators. Draghi told European politicians the bloc's monetary policy decisions reflect the "diverse state of the cycle of the euro zone and the United States."

German manufacturing data showed Monday that industrial orders surged 5.2 percent in December.

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— CNBC's Gemma Acton contributed to this report