Portuguese bond yields edged to eight-year lows after Lisbon said on
Sunday the country would make a clean exit from its bailout later
Volumes were thinned by the closure of markets in London and Tokyo
for public holidays.
At 0848 GMT (4.48 a.m. EDT), the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50
<.STOXX50E> index was down 1.36 percent at 3,134.55 points, after a
survey showed activity in China's manufacturing sector contracted
for a fourth consecutive month in April.
That added to signs the world's second-largest economy is still
losing momentum and knocked Asian shares overnight.
"The crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the sluggish Chinese data
which confirm a slowdown in growth are the two big negative
catalysts for markets," said Lionel Jardin, head of institutional
sales at Assya Capital in Paris.
"The only thing that prevents stocks from a bigger drop is this
week's European Central Bank meeting and the hope that new measures
could be unveiled."
MSCI's world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which tracks shares in 45
countries, was 0.21 percent lower at 413.86.
Brent crude slipped in Singapore following the Chinese PMI, but
later recovered as the rising tensions in Ukraine added to concerns
about supplies. Brent for June delivery was 22 cents higher at
$108.81 a barrel by 0843 GMT (4.43 a.m. EDT), after settling 83
cents higher on Friday.
Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa
on Sunday and freed nearly 70 fellow activists, two days after over
40 died in a blaze at a building they had occupied after clashes
with pro-Kiev groups.
The events in Ukraine also helped gold jump although investors said
gains might not be sustained as outflows from the top gold fund
continued to indicate bearish sentiment.
Gold was $13 higher at $1,313 an ounce, its highest since April 15,
after gaining over $14 on Friday.
The safe-haven yen rose to a two-week high of 101.86 yen against the
dollar, while the euro was steady at $1.3875.
"There is risk aversion that is keeping the yen supported," said
Niels Christensen, FX strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.
[to top of second column]
"Also the dollar has been weighed down by the U.S. data (from
Friday) which shows wages are not growing fast enough to trigger
worries about inflation. As a result, tightening by the Fed is a
some way off and that is not helping U.S. yields."
A sharp rally in longer-dated Treasuries in recent weeks has led to
a marked flattening of the curve, with yields on 30-year paper
diving to 10-month lows on Friday.
The skimpy yields have undermined support for the dollar, which
failed to sustain a post-payrolls rally on Friday.
German 10-year yields have also fallen and were steady around
11-month lows of 1.45 percent as markets eyed the European Central
Bank's policy meeting on Thursday. The Bund future was 4 ticks
higher on the day at 144.84.
The ECB is widely expected to keep monetary policy on hold after a
tick-up in euro zone inflation last month but could adopt new
stimulus measures later this year to support fragile growth in the
18-country currency bloc.
Portugal's 10-year bond yield fell to 3.62 percent, its lowest since
2006, after the government said it would exit its bailout this month
without a back-up loan.
The yield had neared 17 percent at the height of the debt crisis in
2012, and the country was seen at high risk of default as recently
as two years ago.
"It's a bold move by Portugal to move out without asking for a
precautionary credit line but the government is confident that it
can get funding from the market," said ING strategist Alessandro
Lisbon's PSI 20 stock index <.PSI20> was 0.79 percent lower by 0845
GMT (4.45 a.m. EDT), after surging 15 percent year to date.
(Editing by John Stonestreet)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.