For once, Brexit was not hogging the headlines

New York (AFP) - Global stocks finished little changed Monday following a quiet session as investors eyed the latest in trade diplomacy and US banks reported mixed earnings.

The eurozone’s main stock markets edged higher in subdued deals, with many investors away for the Easter holiday break.

US stocks, meanwhile, nudged lower as results from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup got the ball rolling on a heavy week of earnings reports.

With the S&P 500 up nearly 16 percent this year, analysts say it will be harder for the market to rise further without an obvious catalyst.

Analysts expect earnings to decline overall compared with the year-ago period, although some believe companies will have an easy time topping the reduced expectations.

“There seem to be winners and losers this earnings season,” Meeschaert Financial Service’s Gregori Volokhine said of the banking results thus far.

“The market is still looking for something to inspire it to go higher.”

US and Japanese negotiators opened the first round of trade talks in the latest front in President Donald Trump’s aggressive, multi-pronged strategy to address “chronic US trade imbalances.”

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer welcomed the team from Tokyo led by Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at the start of two days of trade talks looking for a rapid deal.

In other trade news, sentiment was partly supported by comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about trade talks with China, who said he was “hopeful we’re getting close to the final round of concluding issues.”

Investors set aside last week’s concerns about a possible new trade war between the US and the European Union after Trump threatened to hit the bloc with tariffs over subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.

They were given a boost on Monday when the EU member countries gave the final green light to begin new trade talks with the US.

Dealers noted that, for once, Brexit was not hogging the headlines this week due to Britain’s parliament being shut for the Easter holiday until April 23.

Britain’s Conservative government will resume talks with the main opposition Labour party next week on how to resolve the deadlock over Brexit, a senior minister said Sunday.

British employment data is due Tuesday, followed by inflation numbers on Wednesday and retail sales figures on Thursday.

- Key figures around 2045 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 26,384.77 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.1 percent at 2,905.58 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,976.01 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,436.87 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,020.28 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,508.73 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,450.46 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 22,169.11 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 29,810.72 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,177.79 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3093 from $1.3074 at 2100 GMT on Friday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.32 pence from 86.40 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1302 from $1.1299

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.03 yen from 112.02 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 37 cents at $71.18 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 49 cents at $63.40 per barrel