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World stocks mostly lower, pound slides to 10-week low

Posted January 9

— World stock markets were mostly lower on Monday while the British pound fell to a 10-week low on indications the government is inclined to opt for a full break away from the European Union's single market.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX lost 0.5 percent to 11,542 and France's CAC 40 slid 0.7 percent to 4,873. Britain's FTSE 100 edged up 0.1 percent to 7.217. U.S. shares were poised to open lower. Dow and S&P 500 futures both dropped 0.1 percent.

POUND DROP: The pound fell to $1.21, its lowest level since October, after Prime Minister Theresa May suggested the government was willing to sever all links to the EU's lucrative single market. Access is valuable for British companies, and many in the business community are hoping that some form of links to the EU will remain.

ASIA'S DAY: Sentiment was more upbeat earlier in Asia, where Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index advanced 0.3 percent to close at 22,558.69 while the Shanghai Composite in mainland China rose 0.5 percent to 3,171.24. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 2,048.78 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.9 percent to 5,807.40. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

CHINA OUTFLOWS: Official data showed that China's foreign exchange reserves contracted in December for the sixth straight month, falling by $41 billion to just over $3 trillion according to the People's Bank of China. The central bank said Saturday its effort to stabilize the yuan was a major reason for the drop in forex reserves. The latest figures underline Beijing's willingness to use its huge stockpile of foreign currency to stabilize the yuan, which has been declining as residents and companies send more money overseas amid flagging confidence in China's economy.

WEEK AHEAD: Potential market-moving events this week include the release of China inflation and Japanese consumer confidence figures on Tuesday. On Wednesday, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has scheduled a long-awaited news conference on his global business empire. Chinese trade data and U.S. retail sales numbers are due at the end of the week.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 116.67 yen from 116.93 yen in late trading Friday. The euro weakened to $1.0521 from $1.0533.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil fell $1.06 to $52.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 23 cents on Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, lost $1.14 to $55.96 a barrel in London.

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