Europe stocks end lower amid ECB QE, US hike fears

European equities finished lower on Monday as the European Central Bank kicked off its bond-buying program and speculation continued that the better-than-expected U.S. jobs report would lead the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates soon.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index (^STOXX) closed around 0.3 percent lower, with most major bourses and sectors in negative territory at the start of the week.

London’s FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) ended around 0.5 percent lower, with the French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) down around 0.6 percent lower. However, German stocks (^GDAXI) shrugged off concerns to end around 0.3 percent higher.

The European Central Bank launched its 1 trillion euro ($ 1.1 trillion) bond-buying program on Monday and euro zone finance ministers met to discuss Greece’s reform plans, on which further aid is conditional.

Read More Greece urged to ‘stop wasting time’ with talks

The stock market move lower in Europe followed a selloff on Wall Street on Friday, after the stronger-than-expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls employment report piqued concerns the Federal Reserve could soon hike rates. Thus, it could be closer to normalizing the accomodative monetary policy that has been supportive of stocks for the last few years. Nonetheless, U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday.

“Expectations for a summer rate hike have firmed up,” Marius Paun and Jonathan Sudaria, two dealers at Capital Spreads, said in a research note.

In individual stock news, shares of French mobile operator Orange (Euronext Paris: ORA-FR) fell to the bottom of the CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI), closing down 5.7 percent, on reports that rival Iliad (Euronext Paris: ILD-FR) might spark another price war in France.

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