By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The euro edged up from a two-week
low, while oil and European equities slipped from multi-month
highs on Monday, with markets checked by ongoing worries over
the euro zone, offsetting signs of a pickup in world trade.
Trading is expected to be light and choppy in the absence of
any major economic drivers, a looming meeting of euro area
finance ministers and the Lunar New Year holiday shutting most
Asian financial centres.
The euro briefly touched a two-week low of $1.3325 in
Asian trade, extending a sell-off that saw the common currency
shed about 2.5 percent last week, but it has since steadied to
be little changed around at around $1.3370.
Analysts were not expecting much new from a euro zone
finance ministers meeting later in the day, though markets will
be on watch for any discussion on the strength of the euro ahead
of the G20 meeting at the end of the week.
Since hitting a 15-month high of $1.3711 on Feb. 1,
sentiment towards the euro has shifted after European Central
Bank president Mario Draghi suggested any further strength could
result in an interest rate cut. Nervousness over political
developments in Spain and Italy has also unsettled the currency.
'The euro has stabilised at lower levels following last
week's verbal intervention from ECB President Draghi, which was
a subtle attempt to dampen the pace of euro appreciation in the
near term,' said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at Bank of
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index traded down
0.3 percent at 1,157.97 points in early trade, having added 1.2
percent on Friday on data showing a narrowing trade deficit in
the United States and growing demand for Chinese exports, which
bolstered hopes the global economy would strengthen.
Brent crude prices dipped slightly but remain not far from
the nine-month high of just over $119 per barrel hit on Friday
as the Chinese trade data revealed a big jump in oil imports.
Brent crude had dipped 40 cents to $118.50 per
barrel, having peaked at $119.17 on Friday, the highest since
May. U.S. crude futures fell 126 cents to $95.46.
Oil markets could get some support from stormy weather in
the heavily populated U.S. Northeast, where a blizzard dumped up
to 40 inches (1 metre) of snow with hurricane force winds,
leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.
(Reporting by Richard Hubbard; Editing by Will Waterman)
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