KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG, AP and AFP
World markets were mostly in the red Monday, opening the week on a cautious note ahead of the release of data from the U.S. and China that will reflect the pace of growth in the world’s top two economies.
In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.2 percent to 6,717.22 while Germany’s DAX shed 0.2 percent to 9,415.22. France’s CAC-40 was almost flat at 4,248.29.
In the United States Bernanke, in a speech to economists Friday as he prepares to leave office, called for continued efforts to make sure the world’s number one economy keeps growing and unemployment carries on falling. Highlighting that the U.S. jobless rate fell from 10 percent in 2009 to 7.0 percent recently, Bernanke nevertheless insisted: “Much progress has been made, but more remains to be done.” He added that the Fed’s decision last month to cut its monthly bond-buying by US$10 billion to US$75 billion did not indicate any lesser commitment to maintain an easy-money policy “for as long as needed.” On Wall Street, futures pointed to a weak start. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 0.1 percent while the Dow Jones industrial average eased 0.01 percent.
Investors are waiting to scrutinize the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting amid expectations it might accelerate the pace of reducing its monetary stimulus on the back of rising economic momentum. Manufacturing, payrolls and trade balance data due this week will reveal if U.S. economic recovery can be sustained.
In Asia, markets fell on Monday in the first full day of trade in the new year, with Tokyo tumbling as the dollar and euro retreated from five-year highs against the yen. Investors were given a mixed lead from Wall Street after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke called for continued efforts to reinforce the recovery in the U.S. economy. Tokyo fell 2.35 percent, or 382.43 points, to 15,908.88, Sydney lost 0.47 percent, or 25.2 points, to 5,324.9, Shanghai gave up 1.80 percent, or 37.43 points, to finish at 2,045.71, while Hong Kong lost 0.58 percent, or 133.13 points, to close at 22,684.15.