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World Stocks Mixed on Monday           12/17 06:06

   World markets were mixed on Monday as British Prime Minister Theresa May 
prepares to address the House of Commons over a messy exit deal. 

   SINGAPORE (AP) -- World markets were mixed on Monday as British Prime 
Minister Theresa May prepares to address the House of Commons over a messy exit 
deal. Most Asian indexes rose on hopes that the Federal Reserve would 
re-evaluate its hawkish stance at a meeting later this week, following signs of 
slower global growth.

   KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX was 0.1 percent lower at 10,856.11 and France's 
CAC 40 fell 0.2 percent to 4,842.54. Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 0.3 
percent at 6,825.02. Wall Street was set for a flat open. Dow futures added 0.1 
percent to 24,147.00 and the broad S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent to 
2,606.70. December is usually the best month of the year for stocks, because of 
a phenomenon known as the "Santa Claus rally" that sees them racking up gains. 
But all major U.S. indexes have fallen more than 10 percent from their record 
highs, reaching a mark known on Wall Street as a correction.

   ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.6 percent to 21,506.88 and the 
Kospi in South Korea gained 0.1 percent to 2,071.09. The Shanghai Composite 
index edged up 0.2 percent to 2,597.97. Australia's S&P ASX 200 rebounded 1 
percent to 5,658.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was less than 0.1 percent lower at 
26,087.98. Shares were higher in Taiwan and Singapore but fell in Indonesia.

   BREXIT TENSIONS: May's address comes after the European Union rebuffed her 
request to sweeten a divorce agreement that has been widely criticized at home. 
She will likely quash suggestions that the government is planning a second 
referendum on whether to leave the bloc. Her supporters have said that another 
Brexit vote would exacerbate divisions in the U.K. Britain is scheduled to 
leave the EU on March 29 and leaving without a deal could plunge the country 
into its deepest recession in nearly a century, its central bank has warned.

   FED MEETING: The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to raise its 
short-term interest rate --- a benchmark for many consumer and business loans 
--- by a modest quarter-point to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent after a 
meeting on Wednesday. This would be its ninth hike since late 2015. The central 
bank forecasts three more rate hikes in 2019, but softer global growth could 
cause a shift in its hawkish stance. Last week, China announced that its 
industrial output and retail sales had slowed in November. France, which is 
racked by protests, reported that its purchasing managers' index fell to a 
level pointing toward economic contraction. Germany's reading, that still 
reflected growth, fell to a four-year low.

   ANALYST'S TAKE: "The 'Santa rally' which had been hoped for has proven to be 
frustratingly elusive, and now markets are quite happy, if not desperate, for 
at least a dovish line to be thrown by the FOMC," Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho 
Bank said in a market commentary. Markets are "grasping straws led by hopes 
that there will be a material dial back of hawkish bias," he added.

   ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 4 cents to $51.24 a barrel in electronic 
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.38 to 
settle at $51.20 in New York on Friday. Brent crude, used to price 
international oils, gained 1 cent to $60.29 a barrel.

   CURRENCIES: The dollar was flat at 113.38 yen. The euro strengthened to 
$1.1322 from $1.1306. The British pound rose to $1.2599 from $1.2583.


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