- European stocks pushed lower on Monday, as investors remained cautious amid sustained expectations for further easing measures by the European Central Bank and amid growinc concerns over the outlook for growth in China.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 declined 0.44%, France’s CAC 40 edged 0.12% lower, while Germany’s DAX slid 0.35%.

Market sentiment was hit after China’s financial regulators tightened rules on bank lending on Friday, sparking fears that limited credit could act as a drag on growth.

Meanwhile, data on Sunday showing that property prices in Beijing fell at the fastest rate in two years in April added to signs of a slowdown in the world''s second-largest economy.

European equities had strengthened last week amid mounting expectations that the ECB will ease monetary policy at its upcoming June meeting to safeguard the recovery in the euro zone and stop inflation from falling too low.

Financial stocks extended losses, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) plummeted 1.51% and 2.95%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) tumbled 1.30%.

Germany''s biggest lender came under pressure after selling about 60 million shares to the Qatari royal family as it announced plans to raise €8 billion in its second-biggest capital increase.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) plunged 3.92% and 4.33% respectively, while Spain''s Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) lost 1.88% and 2.06%.

Sporting-goods giant Adidas (XETRA:ADSGN) was also on the downside, with shares dropping 0.63%, after Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer said in an interview that the company will probably need more time to meet its 2015 sales and margin targets because of the strong euro.

In London, FTSE 100 declined 0.32%, led by Astrazeneca (LONDON:AZN), down 12.14% after rejecting a sweetened £69.4 billion takeover offer from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), considered as too low.

Financial stocks also remained broadly lower, as HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) retreated 0.40% and Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) tumbled 1.44%, while Barclays (LONDON:BARC) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) plummeted 1.93% and 1.52% respectively.

On the upside, Ryanair (LONDON:RYA) surged 6.30% after the discount airline company said that sales rose 3% to €85.04 billion in the year ending March 31.

Adding to gains, services and maintenance company Mitie Group (LONDON:MTO) edged up 0.16% after saying full-year sales rose to £2.22 billion pounds, beating expectations for £2.12 billion.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.40% decline, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.38% drop, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.37% loss.

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