Most European markets opened lower on Monday following a downbeat handover from Asia and the US.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened flat to 306.34. Britain's FTSE 100 opened flat in early deals.

Germany's DAX opened 0.3% lower while France's CAC 40 opened 0.4% lower.

Spain's IBEX was down 0.17% while Italy's FTSE MIB was down 0.04% in opening trade.

In the UK, the jobless rate is likely to drop to the same levels as predicted by the Bank of England to 7.5% by the end of 2014, said an influential business lobby group.

According to the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) quarterly economic update, the unemployment rate will fall in line with the central bank's forecasts which support the idea that interest rates will remain at a record low for three more years.

Britain is also on the cusp of a housing price bubble as the demand for new housing is, by far, outstripping supply. According to a survey by property website Rightmove, UK asking prices have rocketed by 8.8% in the first eight months of 2013 and a further 5.5% year-on-year.

Results from another survey showed UK households reported an easing of the crunch on consumer credit during August. The availability of cash has improved sharply for hard-pressed Britons whose earnings have tumbled since the financial crisis.

Market participants will also be tracking a monthly report from Germany's Bundesbank, due later today.

Earlier, at a campaign rally in Berlin, German politician Peer Steinbrueck called for the introduction of minimum wages in Europe's strongest economy,

Germans will elect a new parliament in September. Chancellor Angela Merkel's rival, Steinbrueck also wanted the state to impose higher taxes on wealthy people to invest in debt reduction, infrastructure and education.

In Asia and the US

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei finished 0.79% higher on Monday. Australia's S&P/ASX closed 0.03% lower, while South Korea's Kospi ended 0.13% lower.

Earlier in Asia, markets were choppy as downbeat trade balance data from Japan and concerns surrounding the future pace of US stimulus weighed on investor sentiment.

Data from Japan showed that exports shot up 12.2% in the year to July, their highest increase in about three years. However, the country's trade balance remained in deficit.

A weaker Japanese yen and rising oil prices have inflated Japan's import bill. Most nuclear power generating stations have not resumed operations following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. In turn, this increased Japan's dependency on imported oil.

Last week, a technological glitch at Chinese brokerage firm Everbright Securities fuelled a rally in Shanghai on the final trading day. Everbright on Monday said in a statement that it lost 194 million yuan ($31.7m) from that trading error.

Stock markets across Asia finished the week ended 17 August higher. The Hang Seng led the pack while the Shanghai Composite trailed.

On Wall Street, indices ended lower on 16 August. The Dow finished 30.72 points lower at 15,081.47, pulled down by Verizon and Pfizer. The S&P 500 closed 5.49 points lower at 1,655.83, while the Nasdaq closed 3.34 points lower at 3,602.78.

For the week ended 17 August, the Dow lost 2.23%, the S&P 500 was down 2.10% and the Nasdaq lost 1.57%.