Stock markets lose shine as focus turns to US-China tensions

European markets retreated Monday as the focus turned to trade issues, with U.S. and Chinese officials discussing the tariffs dispute that has raised concerns about global growth.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX was down 0.6 percent at 10,706 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.6 percent to 6,798. The CAC 40 in France was also 0.6 percent lower at 4,709. U.S. stocks were poised to open steady following Friday's bumper gains, with Dow futures up 0.1 percent and the broader S&P 500 futures pointing to a 0.1 percent fall.

U.S.-CHINA TALKS: A U.S. delegation led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish sat down for two days of talks with Chinese officials starting Monday. Any progress on ending a dispute that has resulted in both sides imposing tariffs on billions of dollars' of each other's exports would be welcomed in the markets. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that negotiations were going "very well." The South China Morning Post, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported that Trump plans to meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, held on Jan. 22 to 25. Last month, Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met and agreed to hold off on further tariffs for 90 days.

ANALYST TAKE: "Investors are going to be on high alert for any updates on how the U.S.-China trade talks are going in Beijing," said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 2.4 percent to 20,038.97, while South Korea's Kospi rose 1.3 percent to 2,037.10. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 added 1.1 percent to 5,683.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.8 percent to 25,835.70 and the Shanghai Composite index rose 0.7 percent to 2,533.09.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil added 91 cents to $48.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was also up 91 cents at $57.97 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.1443 while the dollar declined 0.3 percent to 108.25 yen.