Europe ends mixed after rally; miners fall

European equities closed mixed on Monday, as investors paused for breath after stellar gains last week.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index (^STOXX) finished slightly higher, with country and sector indexes flipping between positive and negative territory throughout the session.

Mining stocks (STOXX:.SXPP) – with their heavy exposure to China – were the major underperformer, after weak data from the world’s second-largest economy helped curb risk sentiment. China exports fell more-than-expected in March, down 14.6 percent from the year-ago period.

A fall in iron ore prices and downgrades from Citi also helped to compound the drop in the sector.

London’s metal-heavy FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) closed around 0.4 percent lower, with U.K.-listed mining stocks like BHP Billiton (London Stock Exchange: BLT-GB) and Anglo American (London Stock Exchange: AAL-GB) closing sharply lower.

German stocks (^GDAXI) finished around 0.2 percent lower, while the French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) ended 0.3 percent higher.

Read More China’s exports fall in March

U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday, shaking off a mostly lower open, as investors awaited the beginning of earnings season. The major indices held above key levels, with the S&P 500 above 2,103, the Nasdaq above 5,000 and the Dow Jones industrial average above 18,000.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally launched her candidacy for the U.S. presidency on Sunday, putting an end to speculation over whether she would run in the 2016 presidential race.

Meanwhile, the World Bank trimmed its 2015-2016 growth forecast for developing East Asia and China on Monday, citing a continued slowdown in China and “significant” risks from global economic uncertainties as a reason for the revision.

In Europe, Greece is expected to remain in the spotlight amid concerns that the country is running out of options to find a solution to its debt problems.

On Sunday, Greece’s finance ministry dismissed a report by a German newspaper which said that euro zone officials were shocked at Greece’s failure to outline plans for structural reforms at last week’s talks in Brussels, Reuters reported Sunday.

Read More Greece hits back at reports of euro zone ‘shock’

In stocks news, Sydbank (Copenhagen Stock Exchange: SYDB-DK) shares rose over 5 percent after the Danish lender announced a share buyback program.

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