European markets brush off earlier Asian weakness

European investors look past earlier weakness in Asia at start of action-packed week

Associated Press
Asian stock markets eke out slight gains

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A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, July 29, 2013. Asian stock markets fell Monday as traders await a packed schedule of data releases this week in the U.S. and a key meeting of the Federal Reserve. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 2.5 percent to 13,766.09 as the yen continued to reverse from its recent fall. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

LONDON (AP) -- European markets brushed off earlier weakness in Asia at the start of an action-packed week that could set the tone for the rest of the summer. Japanese shares underperformed all others Monday as the yen continued to gain ground against the dollar.

As well as more corporate earnings, investors will also have the latest policy statements from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to digest as well as a raft of economic news from around the world. The data week starts slowly but soon picks up steam, culminating in Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for July.

Though the Fed is not expected to change its monetary policy on Wednesday, this week's data could go a long way to determining when the central bank begins to reduce its monetary stimulus. Many in the markets think that the so-called tapering of the stimulus could start in September. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds a month in a move that has kept long-term rates near record lows and supported economic recovery.

"There's plenty of scope for a degree of volatility to be injected into markets," said Andy McLevey, head of dealing at Interactive Investor.

On Monday, European investors appeared to be influenced more by the strong finish on Wall Street last Friday than the earlier retreat in many Asian markets.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.3 percent at 6,575 while Germany's DAX rose the same rate to 8,269. The CAC-40 in France was 0.4 percent higher at 3,983.

Wall Street was poised for a flat opening with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent.

Earlier, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 sank 3.3 percent to 13,661.13, its first close below 14,000 since July 1, as the yen continued to reverse some its recent fall. The dollar was 0.6 percent lower at 97.75 yen to the likely chagrin of Japan's exporters.

"The dollar has remained on the defensive .... extending its recent decline back below the 100.00 yen level," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

A lower yen makes Japanese exports more competitive. The currency's broad weakness this year has been one of the reasons why the Nikkei has been one of the strongest performers. Japanese vehicle makers were among the hardest hit on Monday, with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. down 9.9 percent and Isuzu Motors Ltd. 8 percent lower.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.6 percent to 1,899.89 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 21,850.15. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.7 percent to 1,976.31 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.9 percent to 941.33.

Oil prices were fairly subdued, with the benchmark New York rate down 34 cents at $104.36 a barrel.

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