LONDON: European stocks went on the defensive on Monday (Jan 7), with profit-taking eroding European gains and Wall Street managing small gains after a spectacular rebound in the previous trading session.
There was some lingering optimism thanks to strong US jobs data and signs of slowing rate rises by the Federal Reserve, but investors viewed US-China trade talks with a dose of scepticism.
Earlier, Asian bourses rode high on Friday's Wall Street bounce but investors in Europe felt it was time to cash in on the rebound as their US counterparts seemed to have little firepower left.
"Stocks are still not out of the woods", said Fawad Razaqzqda, a market analyst at Forex.com.
If the forthcoming fourth quarter earnings season in the US produces "more misses than beats then the selling pressure could resume again", he said.
Chinese and US officials on Monday kicked off talks to find a solution to the trade war that has seen the two sides impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods.
But traders said there were no guarantees of progress in the talks.
"Realistically we are unlikely to see any form of tangible breakthrough in the immediate future, with issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights providing a major stumbling block that needs to be overcome," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.
Friday's surge on Wall Street came after figures showed more than 300,000 US jobs were created in December, tempering recent concerns about growth.
Also Friday, Fed boss Jerome Powell said the bank had no "pre-set" plan for raising borrowing costs and was keeping a close watch on financial developments.
The news was music to the ears of traders, who have been fretting that the Fed would press on with its rate hike cycle, making it more expensive to borrow for investment.
China's move to make it easier for banks to lend also provided support to equities, traders said.
But investors continue to worry about a budget gridlock on Capitol Hill that has shut down the US government.
Key figures around 1640 GMT:
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 6,810.88 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 10,747.81 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 4,719.17 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 3,033.64
New York - Dow: UP 0.3 per cent at 23,505.24
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.4 per cent at 20,038.97 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 per cent at 25,835.70 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 per cent at 2,533.09 (close)
Dollar/yen: UP at 108.47 yen from 108.44 at 2200 GMT Friday
Euro/dollar: UP at US1.1487 from US$1.1398
Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2761 from US$1.2730
Oil - Brent Crude: UP US$1.60 at US$58.66 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP US$1.64 at US$49.60 per barrel