With the exception of Hong Kong, which rose 0.8% on reports China may scrap plans to bring in a national property tax, world stock markets and crude oil are trading lower to start the week.

WTI crude oil is down 1.7%, reversing Friday's bounce and then some. US index futures are down 0.1%, the FTSE is down 0.2% and the Dax is 0.4% lower. Currency markets are steady with gold up 0.3%.

This week is lighter for economic news and heavier on meetings and potential‎ political developments. Over the weekend friction from the Trump-Merkel summit continued with the US still unhappy about Germany's low military spending and the cost it pays to defend Germany. At the G20 summit, a commitment to battle protectionism was dropped, while a commitment to avoid competitive currency devaluation was maintained. 

Today Eurogroup finance ministers meet with no agreement with Greece on reforms in sight. ‎Later today French presidential candidates debate for the first time, with LePen and Macron tied at 26% each in the latest poll and both pulling away from the rest of the field. 

In the UK, Brexit remains in focus with the government preparing to trigger Article 50, perhaps around the coming weekend's EU summit although latest reports suggest it could be on Wednesday 29 March. Prime minister May is expected to tour devolved regions to promote Brexit this week. There also has been talk of a 10-year interim deal but it's still all early speculation. The government has quashed speculation on an early election. 

In the US today, the main focus is on Republicans trying to muster up enough support within their own party to pass the Obamacare replacement bill, and Supreme Court confirmation hearings. ‎Markets may focus more on this week's resumption of Fed speakers starting with Chicago Fed President Evans today. If they try to pull back the dovish reaction to last week's statement and dot plot we could see a reaction in the dollar, stocks and other currencies.


Corporate news

There have been no major corporate announcements this morning. 

Economic news

Significant announcements released overnight include:

UK Rightmove house prices: 2.3% unchanged
Germany producer prices: 3.1% vs previous 2.4%

NZ service PMI: 58.8 vs previous 59.5
NZ consumer confidence: 111.9 vs previous 113.1

Upcoming significant economic announcements include:

1.10pm (EDT): FOMC's  Charles Evans speaks


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