World stocks cool off following gains last week

World stocks cool off following a big week of gains as investors lock in profits

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stocks cooled off Monday as some investors sold shares to lock in profits following recent rallies.

Stocks in Hong Kong, Australian and elsewhere surged last week after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill to avoid a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases that have come to be known as the "fiscal cliff." Japan's Nikkei 225 got an additional boost from the yen's steady retreat against the dollar.

"It just seems like markets are entering a consolidation phase after recent gains," Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, said in a market commentary.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent to 6,078.31. Germany's DAX was down nearly 0.2 percent to 7,764.5.6 and France's CAC-40 lost less than 0.1 percent to 3,727.71.

Wall Street appeared headed for losses ahead of the opening bell. Dow Jones futures fell marginally to 13,342 while S&P 500 futures lost less than 0.1 percent to 1,457.

It was a similar refrain earlier in Asia. The Nikkei in Tokyo fell 0.8 percent to close at 10,599.01.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng was nearly unchanged at 23,329.75. South Korea's Kospi lost less than 0.1 percent to 2,011.25. Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan fell while mainland Chinese shares rose.

Weakness in Australian's resource sector sent the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney 0.1 percent lower to 4,717.30. Mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd. fell 1.7 percent. Newcrest Mining lost 1.2 percent.

South Korean and Taiwanese companies that were fined by China last week for fixing prices of LDC display screens saw their stocks tumble Monday. Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp. fell 5.1 percent. HannStar Display Corp. fell 4.7 percent. South Korea's LG Display fell 2.6 percent.

The display-manufacturing arms of Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., along with four Taiwanese companies, were ordered to pay 144 million yuan ($22.8 million) in penalties plus repayment to Chinese customers and other charges. The action by China follows a crackdown on the industry by the U.S. and Europe.

Nearly all the world's mobile phones and personal computers are assembled in China, making it a major market for display screens and other components imported from South Korea, Taiwan and other Asian economies.

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 155,000 jobs in December, showing that hiring held up during the tense fiscal negotiations in Washington. It also said hiring was stronger in November than first thought. The unemployment rate held steady at 7.8 percent.

Benchmark oil for February delivery fell 49 cents to $92.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 17 cents to close at $93.09 in New York on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3025 from $1.3072 late Friday in New York. The dollar dropped to 87.76 yen from 88.13 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

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