- The dollar climbed, while oil prices declined, also after big gains last week.
LONDON: Stock markets were lower Monday, slipping back after a sustained advance to record highs last week against a backdrop of fast rising coronavirus cases and concerns over the outlook for a swift recovery.
The fallout from last week's political upheaval in Washington continued to make itself felt amid conflicting calls over whether or not President Donald Trump should be impeached just as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.
Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com said markets were monitoring the intensifying debate among Democrats over how to hold Trump to account for inciting a mob to attack the US Capitol last week.
At the same time investors also recognised "that the market has gotten extremely complacent and moved too far, too fast -- certainly for the week that just unfolded outside Wall Street -- making it ripe for a pullback," he said.
The dollar climbed, while oil prices declined, also after big gains last week.
"After being bullish for several months, we are definitely becoming more cautious on the stock market up at these levels," said Matt Maley, at Miller Tabak + Co.
The need for more help for the world's top economy was also highlighted by data on Friday showing 140,000 people lost their jobs in December -- the first fall since April -- as virus infections and deaths surged across the country.
Bitcoin continued to be hugely volatile, losing a fifth of its value from Sunday to $32,388, before going back up to above $35,000.
The cryptocurrency last week smashed record after record, eventually surging past $40,000.
In mid-afternoon European trade, Bitcoin was quoted at above $33,300.
Britain's financial watchdog on Monday urged caution, especially among smaller investors.
The Financial Conduct Authority "is aware that some firms are offering investments in cryptoassets, or lending or investments linked to cryptoassets, that promise high returns", it said in a statement.
"Investing in cryptoassets, or investments and lending linked to them, generally involves taking very high risks with investors' money.
"If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money," the FCA added.
Key figures around 1500 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 30,971.36
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,820.75 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.2 percent at 13,873.46
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.1 percent at 5,645.90
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,604.32
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 27,908.22 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,531.50 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a public holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2144 from $1.2219 at 2210 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 104.32 yen from 103.95 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3460 from $1.3560
Euro/pound: UP at 90.21 pence from 90.09 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.1 percent at $51.67 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.4 percent at $55.18 per barrel