Europe stocks slide on US hike jitters

European equities were lower on Monday amid speculation that Friday’s better-than-expected U.S. jobs report will lead the Federal Reserve to hike rates soon.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index (^STOXX) was lower with all major bourses and sectors in negative territory at the start of the week. Stronger-than-expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls on Friday added to investor jitters and spooked global markets.

It has raised the prospect that the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates sooner rather than later. Thus, it could be closer to normalizing monetary policy that has been supportive of stocks for the last few years.

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

By midday stocks had risen off session lows, however. In the U.S., Wall Street opened mildly higher as investors reevaluated the impact the strong jobs report and the proposed timing of a Fed interest rate hike.

Back in Europe, the European Central Bank launched its 1 trillion euro ($ 1.1 trillion) bond-buying program on Monday. Euro zone finance ministers will also meet to discuss Greece’s reform plans. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera Sunday that if Greece’s plans were rejected, the country could call a referendum or hold early elections.

Meanwhile, Italy’s four-time ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi confirmed on Sunday his party would not support the government’s proposed constitutional reforms as he sought to reclaim his leadership of the center-right, Reuters said Sunday.

Investors will also keep an eye on any more dramatic moves from the Swiss National Bank after a Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag, reported by Reuters, said that sources had told it that the central bank could push interest rates further into negative territory to deter investors from piling into the safe-haven Swiss franc.

Shares of Deutsche Bank (Grey Market: DBCQF) and Barclays (London Stock Exchange: BARC-GB) were both lower on Monday after a report by the Financial Times said that traders at both banks are being questioned as part of an investigation into the rigging of the Euribor benchmark interest rate.

Shares of advertising group WPP (London Stock Exchange: WPP-GB) fell 0.3 percent, dragged down by the wider market, despite the company reporting a strong January trading report and 2014 results that were broadly in line with market expectations.

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