By Sara Sjolin*
 

European stock markets slumped to kick off the week, hurt by more weak data from China and a continued slide in car stocks.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, -1.02% dropped 2.2% to end at 341.57, after closing lower for a second straight week on Friday.

China’s industrial profits fell 8.8% in August; a sign the country’s slowing economy has started to hit corporate profits. Miners were hurt by the news, with shares of Rio Tinto PLC RIO, +0.95% RIO, -4.58% RIO, -4.57% down 4.8% and BHP Billiton PLC BLT, +0.82% BHP, -4.36% BHP, -6.65% off 6%.

Commodities trader and mining giant Glencore PLC GLEN, +8.07% GLCNF, -27.70% sank 29% after Investec analysts suggested in a report that the company’s equity value could evaporate against its large debt pile unless commodity prices improve or the company launches a substantial restructuring.

Glencore said it is selling its Araguaia nickel project in Brazil for $8 million, as part of its plan to sell non-core assets to pay down debt.

The mining losses weighed on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.80% which fell 2.5% to 5,958.

U.S. stocks were also lower.

In Germany, the Volkswagen AG VOW3, -2.62% VLKAY, -6.66% emission-test scandal continued to weigh on car makers, sending the DAX 30 index DAX, -0.91% down 2.1% to 9,483.55. Read: Volkswagen CEO vows action on emission scandal

Volkswagen slumped 7.5%, as German prosecutors said they have opened a criminal investigation into former VW boss Martin Winterkorn. Daimler AG DAI, +0.74% DDAIY, -2.44% lost 3.2%, and BMW AG BMW, -0.11% fell 2.9%.

France’s CAC 40 index PX1, -0.99% dropped 2.8% to 4,357.05.

In Spain, separatist parties won a majority of seats in Catalonia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, setting the stage for a standoff with the national government in Madrid, which has vowed to block a push for Catalan independence. The Spanish benchmark the IBEX 35 IBEX, -0.67% ended down 1.3% at 9,394.20.

*Sara Sjolin is a "MarketWatch" reporter based in London.