By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets sustained broad-based losses Monday, with investors jittery as euro-zone finance ministers meet to again discuss Greece and after Catalonian voters in Spain backed pro-independence parties in a weekend election.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.6% to 271.71, a reversal after putting in its best performance in nearly a year last week.
"Greece is still the core story and in focus today with the finance ministers' meeting," said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
"But most stock market reaction is priced in. Investors are hopeful that we'll get some sort of agreement and if not today then it may just happen another day this week," he said.
Among notable decliners in the Stoxx Europe 600, shares of ThyssenKrupp AG lost 4.9%, retreating after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the German conglomerate to neutral, down from outperform previously.
In a similar vein, shares of Akzo Nobel NV gave up 1.1%. Citigroup downgraded its rating on the paint and coatings company to sell from neutral.
Meanwhile, shares of Barclays PLC (BCS) shed 4.9%, after Qatar Holding said it sold its remaining warrants in the U.K. bank but kept its 6.7% stake.
Nokia Corp. shares lost 1.6%. Damian Dinning, the Finnish handset maker's imaging-tech chief, told the pureviewclub.com that he is stepping down to join Jaguar Land Rover, as staying with Nokia would have meant relocating to Finland from the U.K., which was not an option for his family. Nokia confirmed that Dinning is leaving the firm.
For the broader European markets, attention was fixed on Greece, with the euro-zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels for a third time to discuss a deal on a road map to debt sustainability for the nation, a move necessary to release its next tranche of bailout money. The Eurogroup also met last week with Greece on the agenda but interrupted its meeting to "allow for further technical work on some elements of this package."
"To reach debt sustainability, a cocktail of measures is on the table, including lower interest rates on Greek debt, debt buybacks and a compromise with the IMF to extend the target date for debt at 120% of GDP to 2022 from 2020," analysts at SociÃ©tÃ© GÃ©nÃ©rale said in a note.
"While there is a good chance that an agreement is reached on Monday, we consider it unlikely that this will make Greek public finances sustainable on anything but paper. The hope is no doubt that the Greek issue will not need to be revisited until after the German election due in autumn 2013," they said.
The Athens General Index turned lower, off 0.7% to 839.47.
European investors also fixed their eyes on Spain, after pro-independence parties in the region of Catalonia won a major victory in Sunday's election.
Spain's IBEX 35 index dropped 0.7% to 7,854.00, with shares of Banco Santander SA (SAN) losing 0.6%.
Banking shares were also on the decline in the U.K., as Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) fell 3.1% and sector heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC lost 1.2%.
The FTSE 100 index gave up 0.7% to 5,780.95.
In France, shares of BNP Paribas SA dropped 1.2% and oil group Total SA (TOT) shed 0.8% as crude-oil futures moved lower.
The CAC 40 index traded 0.9% lower at 3,498.80.
Germany's DAX 30 index lost 0.4% to 7,279.74. Shares of Deutsche Bank AG (DB) fell 2.1%.
Outside the major indexes, shares of UBS AG (UBS) lost 1.2%. The U.K. Financial Services Authority said it has fined the investment bank 29.7 million pounds ($47.5 million) for systems and controls that failed in relation to a $2.3 billion trading loss as a result of unauthorized trading.
And shares of Swiss Re AG slumped 1.2%. The reinsurance firm estimated its claims burden from Hurricane Sandy at about $900 million.
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