Investing.com - European stocks started the week off flat with mixed signs on Monday as investors looked ahead to a busy week that will include an interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), the U.K. triggering of Article 50 to official start negotiations with the European Union (EU) over the Brexit, as Britain's exit is known, and eyes turn to elections in Europe.
In mid-morning trade in Europe, the benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 edged forward 0.04%, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.02%, and Germany's DAX 30 inched up 0.04%.
Investors seemed unwilling to make big moves in stocks at the beginning of a week with several major events.
The Fed is widely expected to increase interest rates in its policy decision announcement on Wednesday in what would only be the third move to normalize monetary policy in nearly a decade after the financial crisis began.
Elections in the Netherlands on Wednesday are being watched as a bellwether for the spread of populism in Europe, particularly ahead of next month's French election, as well as those in Germany set for September.
Opinion polls have suggested that Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders' right-wing Freedom Party, which wants to take the Netherlands out of the European Union and stop Muslim immigration, has lost its lead to more mainstream opponents.
But investors remained weary over the possibility of a Brexit or Trump-style shock result.
In the U.K., speculation pointed to the fact that British Prime Minister Theresa May was may officially trigger Article 50 on Tuesday when she updates the Parliament on last week's EU council. The press has been full of reports that the British government is preparing for a scenario where no trade deal is struck with the EU in 2 years' time.
Markets will also keep tabs on a string of appearances from various members of the European Central Bank (ECB) including its president Mario Draghi. However, the remarks may garner less attention than normal considering that the ECB just maintained its policies unchanged last week.
Meanwhile, oil prices dropped to their lowest level in three months on Monday despite OPEC efforts to curb crude output, dragged down as U.S. drillers kept adding rigs.
According to data released late Friday from oil services provider Baker Hughes, U.S. drillers added oil rigs for an eighth consecutive week, taking advantage of the recovery in prices thanks to the production cuts in our to ramp up their own activity.
Energy stocks were mixed, as French oil and gas major Total SA (PA:TOTF) fell 0.54% and Italy's ENI (MI:ENI) lost 0.55%, but Norwegian rival Statoil (OL:STL) advanced 0.27%.
Financial stocks also showed mixed signs, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) lost 0.66% and 0.23%, while Germany's Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) and Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) gained 0.55% and 0.13%, respectively.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (MI:ISP) and Unicredit (MI:CRDI) traded up 0.49% and 0.14% respectively, while Spanish banks BBVA (MC:BBVA) inched up 0.10% but Banco Santander (MC:SAN) traded down 0.75%.
In London, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 inched up 0.01%, supported by gains in the mining sector.
Shares in Glencore (LON:GLEN) rallied 2.66% and Anglo American (LON:AAL) soared 4.30%, while BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) and Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) surged 2.61% and 3.27% respectively.
Energy stocks showed losses, as BP (LON:BP) slumped 1.38% and rival Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) gave up 0.37%.
Financial stocks were mixed, with shares in HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) up 0.80% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) down 1.14%, while Barclays (LON:BARC) and Lloyds Banking (LON:LLOY) lost 0.93% and 0.10% respectively.
In the U.S., futures pointed to a slightly lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures lost 0.10%, S&P 500 futures fell 0.10%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures traded down 0.15%.
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