KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.9 percent to 5,004.68 and Germany's DAX was up 0.9 percent at 11,002.65. Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.6 percent to 7,106.46 after government figures showed the British economy slowed last year to its weakest growth rate since the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The data weakened the pound, which tends to boost the shares of the many multinationals listed on the FTSE.
Wall Street was headed for small gains on the open. Dow futures added 0.2 percent to 25,142. The broader S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 2,713.
U.S-CHINA TALKS: Officials from the U.S. and China are to meet in Beijing for talks on Thursday and Friday. U.S. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer will lead the American delegation at the talks, which are aimed at bringing the two sides closer to resolving deep-seated issues such as disagreements over Beijing's technology policy. Lower-level negotiations were set to begin Monday, but a resolution isn't expected before a truce on tariffs expires in early March. An agreement before then, or a simple extension of the truce, will be viewed as positive for markets. If not, the U.S. is expected to more than double import taxes on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "After the worst December and best January in years, it appears that we are back at inflection point across various asset classes, waiting for direction yet again," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.
THE DAY IN ASIA: Markets in China and Taiwan, reopening after a weeklong Lunar New Year break, posted broad gains. The Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.4 percent to 2,653.90. The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.2 percent to 2,180.73 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 28,143.84. Australia's S&P ASX 200 was 0.2 percent lower at 6,060.80. Stocks rose in Taiwan but fell in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.
ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 48 cents to $52.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 8 cents to settle at $52.72 per barrel in New York on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 18 cents to $61.92 per barrel. It added 47 cents to close at $62.10 per barrel in London on Friday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.20 yen from 109.73 yen late Friday. The euro eased to $1.1307 from $1.1324. The pound was at $1.2897, from $1.2942.
Matt Ott in Madrid contributed to this report.
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