LONDON — Weak Chinese economic data weighed on global stocks Monday at the start of a week that's likely to be dominated by speculation over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June.
The price of oil, meanwhile, rallied amid forecasts for a stronger recovery in the market this year.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.6 percent at 6,105 while the CAC-40 in France fell 1 percent to 4,278. Germany's DAX was closed for a public holiday. U.S. stocks were poised for a subdued open, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both flat.
CHINESE WEAKNESS: The main economic driver came from China, where weaker than anticipated industrial production figures were published over the weekend. Though partially offset by solid retail sales data, the news that industrial production growth slipped to a year-on-year rate of 6 percent in April from 6.8 percent the previous month reinforced concerns over the scale of the slowdown in the Chinese economy.
ANALYST TAKE: "Following a noticeable improvement in economic indicators for March, the release over the weekend from China, which completes the data set for last month, paints an altogether gloomier picture," said David Cheetham, market analyst at XTB. "The Chinese poured a record amount of fresh credit into the economy for the first quarter and the improvement in figures for March were likely boosted by this, but it looks increasingly like a short-term reprieve that is unsustainable and contrary to the prevailing trend."
FED FOCUS: U.S. interest rate policy is expected to be the main driver in financial markets this week. In addition to planned remarks from a raft of Fed officials, traders will also be monitoring Wednesday's release of the minutes to the last meeting of the Fed policymakers. Some solid economic data and the waning of the early-year volatility in financial markets have raised expectations that the Fed will raise interest rates again in June.
THE QUOTE: "It will be interesting to see whether the minutes from the last meeting support this idea or put the final nail in the coffin," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
ENERGY: Oil prices advanced, apparently led by more upbeat forecasts from analysts at Goldman Sachs. They said the crude market "has gone from nearing storage saturation to being in deficit much earlier than we expected." As a result, they expect the price of U.S. benchmark oil to be around $50 a barrel in the second half of this year.
The U.S. contract was up $1.01 at $47.22 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added $1.04 to $48.87 per barrel in London.
ASIA'S DAY: Earlier, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.8 percent to 2,850.86 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 19,883.95. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent to 5,358.90 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent to 16,466.40. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines advanced. India's Sensex rose 0.4 percent to 25,594.06 and Seoul's Kospi was unchanged at 1,967.91. Indonesia and Thailand retreated.
CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.1326 while the dollar rose 0.2 percent to 108.88 yen.