World stock markets drift ahead of reports on U.S. economy after strong run

LONDON – Markets have begun the new week sluggishly after a buoyant start to the year where many of the world’s major stock indexes have been trading at multiyear highs.

With little to catch investors’ eyes, trading has been muted Monday, particularly in Europe. However, a raft of economic data and corporate earnings over the week, particularly out of the U.S., should see the tempo pick up.

“The rally which has propelled equities higher in recent weeks shows some signs of abating as we are seeing retail investors starting to rein in their appetite for risk,” said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor. “Furthermore, with corporate earnings thin on the ground today, investors are struggling to find the drivers in the short term which will push equities on to new highs and may well take this opportunity to bank some profits.”

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat at 6,283, while the CAC-40 in France was more or less unchanged at 3,776. Germany’s DAX was 0.1 per cent lower at 7,854.

Wall Street was poised for an equally lacklustre opening.

U.S. durable goods and pending home sales for December may excite later in the day, but the numbers would have to sharply disappoint to dampen enthusiasm for stocks. Fourth-quarter growth data are due later in the week as are nonfarm payrolls figures for January — the latter often set the market tone for a week or two after their release.

“The heavy slate of U.S. data releases this week will keep markets busy but overall we see little to dent the positive tone to risk assets over coming sessions,” Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole CIB said.

Earlier, Asian markets posted slight gains Monday after strong U.S. earnings pushed Wall Street indexes to multiyear highs on Friday. On Friday, the S&P 500 index closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years after good earnings reports from Starbucks and Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer products maker. The Dow Jones industrial average is not far off hitting the 14,000 mark too.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 per cent to 23,671.88. Mainland Chinese shares ended higher, with the Shanghai Composite Index jumping 2.4 per cent to 2,346.51. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 2.5 per cent to 932.61.

Japan’s Nikkei was a standout, falling quite sharply amid profit-taking. The Nikkei in Tokyo opened higher but then slipped 0.9 per cent to close at 10,824.31 as investors cashed in shares following strong gains.

Trading was lacklustre elsewhere in other financial markets too, with the euro down 0.1 per cent at $1.3452 and the dollar 0.2 per cent lower at 90.68 yen.

The price of benchmark New York crude was 8 cents higher at $95.96 a barrel.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.




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