Global stocks down ahead of US data, Fed speeches

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mostly lower Monday as investors looked ahead to this week's public appearances by the U.S. Federal Reserve chief for signs of whether the central bank will raise interest rates this month.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, France's CAC-40 retreated 0.3 percent to 4,913.61 and Germany's DAX was off 0.2 percent at 11,293.76. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.7 percent to 6,331.32. Wall Street was set to add to Friday's losses. Futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 shed 0.3 percent to 17,743.00. Dow futures lost 0.3 percent to 17,742.00.

FED SPEECH: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is due to deliver a speech Wednesday and congressional testimony Thursday in which financial analysts expect her to affirm the view that the U.S. economy is improving enough that the Fed can raise interest rates. Rates at near zero since the 2008 global crisis have helped boost stock prices. Fed officials have indicated they are likely to approve a rate hike at their Dec. 15-16 meeting. Yellen has said further increases will be gradual. Investors are looking ahead to a flurry of U.S. data this week: housing sales on Monday, manufacturing on Tuesday, jobs on Wednesday and Thursday and trade on Friday.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "At this point the presumption is that tightening is about to begin, even if this week's slew of important data are weaker than expected," said Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics in a report. "Indeed, Fed Chair Yellen is not even waiting for this week's employment report before giving what we expect will be the clearest signal to date that the start of tightening is imminent," said O'Sullivan. "We expect she will emphasize cumulative improvement in the labor market, downplaying the importance of a single monthly reading."

ASIA'S DAY: Seoul's Kospi fell 1.8 percent to 1,991.97 after South Korea's industrial production in October dropped unexpectedly from the previous month, led by weakness in chemicals, auto production and construction. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 retreated 0.7 percent to 19,747.47. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.3 percent to 3,445.40, recovering a portion of Friday's 5.5 percent plunge. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7 percent to 5,166.50 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 21,996.42. India's Sensex was little changed. Singapore and Bangkok advanced while Jakarta and Wellington declined.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 10 cents to $41.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $1.33 on Friday to close at $41.71. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 25 cents to $44.61 per barrel in London. It fell 60 cents on Friday to $44.86.

CURRENCIES: The dollar gained to 122.93 yen from Friday's 122.76. The euro edged down to $1.0586 from $1.0593.