Germany's DAX was flat at 12,385.10 while the CAC 40 in Paris edged 0.1% higher to 5,647.41. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.1% to 7,415.26. But Wall Street looked poised for gains, with the future contract for the S&P 500 up 0.4% to 2,976.00. The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% 26,894.00.
Wall Street capped last week with a second straight weekly loss for the S&P 500 Friday as worries about a potential escalation in the trade war between the U.S. and China erased early gains. Technology companies led the broad slide as investors weighed a report saying the Trump administration is considering ways to limit U.S. investments in China. Bloomberg cited unnamed people familiar with the administration's internal discussions.
The possibility that the U.S. is weighing another way of applying pressure on China dampened investors' already cautious optimism that the world's two biggest economies might make progress in upcoming negotiations.
Investors were cheered, however, by news that two gauges of Chinese factory activity improved in September. Surveys released Monday by an industry group and a business magazine both showed improvement, though the gains were small.
Demand for Chinese goods has been hurt by weakening domestic and global economic growth as well as U.S. tariff hikes in a fight over trade and technology. Negotiators are due to meet soon in Washington but there has been no sign of progress toward ending the dispute.
Uncertainty over the long-running trade war has fueled volatility in the market and stoked worries that the impact of tariffs and other tactics employed by the countries against each other is hampering U.S. economic and corporate profit growth.
In Asia on Monday, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6% to 21,755.84 and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.9% to 2,905.19. India's Sensex declined 0.5% to 38,646.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5% to 26,092.27, while Sydney's S&P ASX 200 gave up early gains, losing 0.4% to 6,688.30. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.6% to 2,063.05. Shares fell in Indonesia and Thailand.
Hong Kong got a boost from reassuring comments by the chief executive of its monetary authority. Norman Chan Tak-lam, who is stepping down, said that despite the past several months of increasingly violent political protests, "the monetary system that means the exchange rate, the banking system and the financial system, have remained stable, and they have been continue to function normally and smoothly."
Benchmark crude oil fell back, losing 30 cents to $55.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 50 cents on Friday to $55.91 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, also declined, shedding 33 cents to $60.71 a barrel.
The dollar slipped to 107.93 Japanese yen from 107.97 yen. The euro weakened to $1.0931 from $1.0934.