Stock markets downbeat as dollar firms

Stock markets kicked off the week in lacklustre fashion on Monday as the dollar recovered some ground after slumping last week to three-year lows against the euro.

London was one of the few risers, with the index benefitting from gains to share prices of heavyweight mining companies on rising copper prices, traders said.

“After managing to staunch its bleeding last Friday, the dollar has continued to try and claw back the acres of ground lost in the last few months,” said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex trading group.

Earlier Monday, Asian stock markets ended down on profit-taking, as investors tracked last week’s record-breaking close on Wall Street.

The three major US indices all closed at record highs on Friday with earnings season in full swing, on the back of strong earnings announcements.

But on Monday, Wall Street also ran into profit-taking after four straight weekly gains.

– Assessing the rally –

“US stocks are lower in early action, ahead of a busy week of economic and earnings data, while the global markets assess the rally that has carried over into 2018,” brokers Charles Schwab said in a note to clients.

But there is a good chance that the upward trend will resume, with major companies signalling higher profits in anticipation of tax cuts recently enacted in the United States, analysts said.

With more earnings numbers expected this week — including from tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Google’s parent company Alphabet — analysts say strong results could sustain the positive sentiment in the markets.

“A data-packed week and stock reporting seasons around the globe should see market focus turn to the numbers,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

But he warned that a weak dollar “may prove a brake on any investor exuberance”.

The greenback remains under pressure after seemingly contradictory comments last week on its strength by US President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

‘Two-way uncertainty’

The dollar could experience more turbulence with several major announcements coming up this week, including Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Markets could also be impacted this week by the outcome of a scheduled US Federal Reserve meeting.

The Fed is expected to leave the benchmark US interest rate untouched, but economists say the changing composition of the policy committee could point to faster rate rises in 2018 — especially if the dollar remains weak.

Industrial data from China and GDP figures from India are also expected this week.

– Key figures around 1435 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,671.75 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: FLAT at 13,339.67

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,534.21

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,645.61

New York – DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 26,559.91

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 23,629.34 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.6 percent at 33,966.89 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,523.00 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2357 from $1.2428 at 2200 GMT on Friday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4083 from $1.4155

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.74 yen from 108.63 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.17 at $69.35 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 76 cents at $65.38

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