Global stocks looking for direction in flat start to week

LONDON — Global stock markets traded in narrow ranges Monday as investors awaited fresh drivers following a volatile couple of months that has seen many shares take a pounding on a series of concerns, including fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China, and then recover amid a rebound in risk appetite.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was almost unchanged at 7,367 while Germany's DAX was steady at 12,536. The CAC 40 in France fell 0.1 percent to 5,410. U.S. stocks were poised for a similarly flat opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures unchanged.

NORTH KOREA: Much of the focus in financial markets relates to geopolitical issues, especially in the run-up to a potential meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader North Korea's Kim Jong Un. On Saturday, Pyongyang suspended further nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and close its nuclear test site, a move that raised hopes in Washington for a breakthrough in the upcoming nuclear negotiations. However, the North's statement stopped short of suggesting it would give up its nukes or halt production of missiles. That raises the question of what might come of a meeting between the North Korean and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday.

ANALYST TAKE: "While markets do not seem as sensitive to the potential conflict between the U.S. and North Korea recently, the potential for a denuclearization would no doubt provide a boost for the Asian region in particular," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG. "Interestingly, while this shift in geopolitical risk has done little to boost stocks, we are seeing that improvement in risk attitudes reflected in bond and prices, both of which have been pulling back."

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent to 22,088.04 and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.1 percent to 2,474.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.5 percent to 30,254.40 and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.1 percent to 3,068.01. Australia's S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,886.00.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 16 cents to $68.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 4 cents to $74.10 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.2235 while the dollar rose 0.5 percent to 108.15 yen.

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