Markets sluggish after Chinese data dump
Markets have started the week sluggishly Monday as investors pause for breath following a dash that's seen the Dow Jones index in the U.S. record a series of all- time highs.
Chinese economic figures over the weekend were largely disappointing and prompted many investors to book some recent gains and take to the sidelines after a rally that's seen many stock indexes around the world push up to multi-year highs following a strong start to the year.
The soft Chinese industrial production and retail sales figures stoked some concerns that the recent pick-up in the country's growth rate may have stalled. In addition, higher than expected inflation of 3.2 percent in February raised questions about the government's ability to do more to shore up the world's number 2 economy.
Still, the numbers did not prompt a wholesale re-evaluation partly because they were likely impacted by the country's Lunar New Year holiday period.
"Some caution is needed given distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday, so it may take a few more months of data to get a clearer picture," said Elsa Lignos, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat at 6,438 while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 7,966. The CAC-40 in France was 0.4 percent lower at 3,826.
Italian shares underperformed their peers, with the Milan exchange 0.7 percent lower as investors wait to see if a government can be forged following inconclusive elections two weeks ago. A downgrade of the country's credit rating from Fitch on Friday also added to the prevailing caution.
Wall Street was poised for a fairly uninspiring opening, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent.
With little on the economic calendar in Europe and the U.S. Monday, stocks may continue to drift especially after last week's historic week on Wall Street which was capped with stronger- than- expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls figures for February.