European Shares Pause Ahead of Central Bank Speeches -- 2nd Update

By Marina Force Features Dow Jones Newswires

European stocks started the week mostly down after closing in the red Friday as investors appeared increasingly concerned over the U.S. tax-overhaul plan.

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The Stoxx Europe 600 was 0.5% lower near midday, led by losses in financial services and mining.

Futures pointed to a 0.2% opening loss for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the three major Wall Street indexes posted drops last week. In Asia, markets closed broadly down.

In currencies, the British pound dropped 0.7% against the U.S. dollar Monday on weekend news that as many as 40 Conservative members of Parliament had agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May, eight short of the number needed to trigger a leadership challenge.

Sterling could face further pressure this week, with several Bank of England members set to speak and data on U.K. inflation and retail sales due.

Some investors warned that the disunity within the ruling Conservative party could weigh on Brexit talks and diminish the probability of an extended transitional arrangement, which is perceived as beneficial for the economy.

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"I think the vulnerability in terms of the government and the lack of unity within the Conservative party means that the political backdrop for smooth Brexit negotiations has probably decreased slightly," said Mark Richards, multiasset strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Meanwhile, talks on the U.S. Republican tax proposals will continue to be in focus after concerns over their prospects for passage interrupted remarkable stock gains last week and triggered some selloff, said Zhiwei Ren, managing director at Penn Mutual Asset Management.

"I think we will eventually see some tax bill but the timing is highly uncertain as the Senate bill is really different" from the one in the House, he said. "So there will be a lot of back and forth negotiation to get it passed."

The dollar edged higher Monday, after notching losses last week amid investor's disappointment that corporate tax cuts could be delayed until 2019. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, rose 0.1% to 87.69 Monday.

Among this week's highlights will be speeches by central bank leaders, with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen both set to speak Tuesday.

In the U.S., investors will keep a close eye on the October Consumer Price Index, due Wednesday, as a proxy for inflation. While the Federal Reserve is widely expected to increase rates in December, a soft inflation reading could fuel the debate around the flattening of the U.S. yield curve.

In the bond market, prices climbed, pushing down yields. The 10-year Treasury yield moved slightly lower Monday to trade at 2.374% according to Tradeweb, compared with Friday's close of 2.397%. The 10-year German government bond yield was also off at 0.389%, from 0.407%.

Earlier in Asia, most major stock indexes logged declines, with Japanese stocks again underperforming after their gains of the past two months.

After seeing its biggest drop percentage-wise in two months Friday, the Nikkei Stock Average fell a further 1.3%. Monday's fall in Japan came despite a pullback in the yen. Earnings, which had been supporting the market, also clouded sentiment.

In South Korea, the Kospi index closed down 0.5%, while Hong Kong's benchmark index got a boost from technology stocks. The Hang Seng Index was up 0.2%, closing at its highest level since December 2007. E-gaming services provider Razer surged as much as 41% in its market debut Monday; it was recently up 18%.

In the commodities market, Brent crude was down 0.1% at $63.60.

Ese Erheriene contributed to this article.

Write to Marina Force at marina.force@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 13, 2017 07:58 ET (12:58 GMT)