UK and European stocks struggled for direction on Monday (7 March) as a rally in oil prices failed to deliver a significant boost to equity markets, with investors still dealing with a number of geopolitical worries.
London's FTSE 100 closed down 0.27% to 6,182.40, followed in the red by the Pan European Stoxx 600, which fell 0.25%, while Germany's Dax and France's CAC 40 gained 0.28% and 0.59% respectively.
"Market jitters are clearly going to be an ongoing theme this week, as the buoyant bullish sentiment that has dominated the past three weeks gave way to notable hesitancy ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG.
"With investors' gradually pouring back into stocks, sentiment is certainly healthier than it has been this year, yet recent gains could come under pressure as profit taking takes hold amid waning risk appetite."
Oil prices surged ahead, with Brent crude gaining 2.96% to $39.90 (£28.01, €36.28) a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose 2.71% to $36.92 a barrel. The rally in oil prices boosted commodity-related stocks, which had drifted firmly lower earlier in the session.
Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, Glencore and Anglo American were among the top five risers on the FTSE 100, as they all gained over 5%.
Meanwhile, investment group Old Mutual, was also among standout gainers after it revealed all options for its strategic review were being considered but no decision had been made yet in response to speculation suggesting the company could be preparing a £9tn break-up.
"Investors will be hoping that it's a case of 2+2=5 with the individual assets the company being worth more on a stand-alone basis than whilst held together," said Michael Van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
However, Randgold Resources was among the worst performers on London's blue-chip index after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the stock to 'equalweight' from 'overweight', indicating it was time for investors to cash in as the miner's shares have gained 53% so far this year.
The rally in oil prices was felt on the FTSE 250 as well, with Evraz and Vedanta among the best performers on the day, while Just Eat plunged after group chief executive David Butress and finance chief Mike Wroe sold a combined 2m shares.
FTSE 100 - Top 5 risers
Old Mutual +7.18%
Anglo American +5.66%
Rio Tinto +5.07%
FTSE 100 - Top 5 fallers
Randgold Resources -3.02%
Worldpay Group -2.73%
RSA Insurance -2.03%
Provident Financial -1.90%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 risers
Polymetal International +3.85%
Poundland Group +3.39%
Vedanta Resources +3.31%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 fallers
Just Eat -10.12%
Mitie Group -7.41%
Jimmy Choo -4.52%
Dunelm Group -4.26%