(AP) Financial markets were flat-footed Monday at the start of a busy week that will see a number of key economic releases published and the U.S. corporate earnings reporting season pick up steam.
Oil was the standout mover as the benchmark rate briefly fell below $100 a barrel for the first time since early July.
Most attention in recent weeks has centered on the prolonged stalemate in Washington to raise the country's debt ceiling and reopen the government. Now that a deal has been agreed, albeit a short-term one, investors can focus on other matters, such as the underlying health of the global economy and when the Federal Reserve will start reducing its monetary stimulus.
During the partial U.S. government shutdown of recent weeks, much of the U.S. economic data was postponed. With the government now functioning fully, many of those data reports will be released over the coming days, including September's nonfarm payrolls figures. That's due on Tuesday and could provide investors a steer as to when the Fed will start reducing its $85 billion-worth of monthly asset purchases.
In addition, investors will be monitoring the next round of earnings, particularly out of the U.S. around 30 percent of the S&P 500 is due to unveil reports this week. Monday's batch were fairly mixed while McDonald's confirmed that it faces greater competition, shifting eating habits and tough economic conditions around the world, toy maker Hasbro saw its share price spike sharply after reporting better-than-expected results.
"Investors are again focusing on fundamental matters, particularly in the form of earnings," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG in New York. "A number of issues remain equity supportive, indicating higher prices ahead. These include ongoing earnings growth, seasonality and a Federal Reserve that very well may stay accommodative until January if not March."
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.3 percent at 6,646 while Germany's DAX was flat at 8,864. The CAC-40 in France was 0.3 percent lower at 4,275.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.1 percent at 15,386 while the broader S&P 500 index was flat at 1,744. Last week, relief over the U.S. debt ceiling helped the S&P hit an all-time high.
Earlier, Asian markets were fairly buoyant after Friday's solid session in the U.S., where stocks were boosted by unexpectedly strong profits from General Electric Co., Morgan Stanley and other companies. Google surged nearly 14 percent, topping $1,000 a share for the first time.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to 14,693.57 while China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 1.6 percent to 2,229.24. Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney also rose.
In the currency markets, trading was lackluster. The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3675 on Friday, it rose above $1.37 for the first time since February, largely because of the dollar's weakness in the wake of the debt ceiling crisis.
In the oil markets, a barrel of benchmark New York crude was down 64 cents at $100.48 a barrel. Earlier it had fallen below $100 for the first time since early July to $99.64 a barrel.
"The ample and rising supply of oil, combined with weaker demand growth prospects, point towards lower prices in the months ahead," said Fawad Razaqzada, a technical analyst at GFT Global Markets.