HONG KONG – Global stock markets were weighed down Monday by weak Chinese trade data and the new Greek prime minister's vow to renegotiate an international bailout that imposed harsh austerity.
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KEEPING SCORE: European shares were lower in early trading. France's CAC-40 lost 1.3 percent to 4,631.57 and Germany's DAX fell 1.6 percent to 10,670.11. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.7 percent to 6,803.43. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures down 0.5 percent to 17,691.00. Broader S&P 500 futures shed 0.6 percent to 2,041.20.
CHINA TRADE: Investors were reacting to Chinese trade data released Sunday that showed imports fell nearly 20 percent over a year earlier in January. Chinese economic data is usually volatile at the beginning of the year because of Lunar New Year holidays, which falls in January or February each year. But the particularly sharp fall added to worries that the world's second biggest economy is still weakening after growth in 2014 hit a 24-year low. Exports were also weak, dropping 3.2 percent from a year earlier. The data sent most global indexes lower except in China itself, where investors gambled that more stimulus was in store.
ANALYST VIEW: The China "data point to a challenging environment for export growth in 2015, and increased our conviction that both monetary and fiscal policies must ease more aggressively to support growth in the coming months," HSBC economists Julia Wang and Jing Li wrote in a research report.
GREEK FEARS: European markets were gloomy were after the new prime minister of Greece outlined his government's policy statement to lawmakers on Sunday, declaring an end to austerity. Alexis Tsipras's demands for a "bridge agreement" giving Greece and its creditors time to negotiate a new debt deal raised fears that it would lead to the Mediterranean country leaving the euro.
ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to close at 24,521.00 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4 percent to 1,947.00. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.1 percent to 5,814.90. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also closed lower. However, the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China rose 0.6 percent to 3,095.12 on stimulus bets. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 17,711.93.
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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 24 cents to $51.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.21 to close at $51.69 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, a benchmark for oil sold internationally, lost 28 cents to $57.52.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 118.63 yen from 119.14 yen in late trading Friday. The euro rose to $1.3344 from $1.1315.