U.S. equity futures are showing early signs of improvement Monday as European stocks fight their way into positive territory despite investor concern over stalled tax reform in the United States and the prospect of new elections in Germany.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 index, the broadest measure of regional share prices, was marked 0.37% higher in the opening hour of trading, with markets in France and Switzerland notching modest gains while German stocks lagged. Britain's FTSE 100, however, was seen only 0.17% lower thanks in part to a stronger pound, which topped the 1.32 mark in overnight Asia trading and extended against the U.S. dollar to 1.3259 amid reports that the U.K. government may be prepared to increase its "Brexit Bill" offer to the European Union by several billion pounds in order to kick-start trade negotiations next month.
On Wall Street, the three major benchmarks are all expected to open lower again Monday, but have improved for much of the European session despite competing tax reform proposals in the House and the Senate give rise to concern that a compromise may not be found prior to the Christmas break.
Dow Jones Industrial Average mini futures were seen 3 points, or 0.01% lower while mini futures for the broader S&P 500 were marked 0.75 points, or 0.03% into the red.
The euro slipped heavily against the U.S. dollar in Asia trading and was marked at 1.1754 at the start of the European session before recovering modestly to around 1.1780. The weakness is linked, in part, to the breakdown of coalition government talks in Germany, where the pro-business Free Democrats walked out over the weekend, leaving Chancellor Angela Merkel with the likely option of forming a minority government with the Green party or calling fresh elections in the new year.
The equity moves followed a weaker session in Asia where the Nikkei 225 gave back around 0.6% on the first session of the week to close at 22,261.7 points and the broadest measure of regional share prices, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, slipped 0.05% thanks in part to weakness in Chinese stocks linked to regulatory changes in the asset management industry.
Global oil prices, however, were largely inert in overnight but softer into the European session as investors hold positions into next weeks OPEC meeting in Vienna, where members will try to come to an agreement on production cuts that have taken 1.8 million barrels per day from the market and are expected to expire in March.
Brent crude futures contracts for January delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 1.05% lower at $62.03 while West Texas Intermediate crude for the same month, which is more tightly linked to U.S. prices, were marked 0.4% lower at $56.40 per barrel.
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