Europe Markets

FTSE, DAX, CAC to Open Mixed, EU Leaders Warn of Tough 2012


European stocks were called to open mixed on Tuesday as London's FTSE begins its first session of 2012 and following a strong start to the year for the CAC and DAX on Monday.

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The FTSE is called 90 points higher, the DAX in Frankfurt is expected to be down by 18 points and the CAC 40 is called lower by 14 points.

Shares rose and the euro wallowed at near-decade lows against the Japanese yen in overnight trade in Asia, fuelling concerns that the common currency will continue to struggle against other major currencies.  Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday showed hedge funds increased their short positions against the euro in the last month of 2011 with bets against the common currency reaching record levels.

In Asia, the materials and financial sectors were the strongest performers on Tuesday with mining firms BHP Billiton and Rio Tintogaining more that 1.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi index was the region's best performing index, up around 2 percent. 

US crude oil rose 1.5 percent over $100 a barrel following fresh pressure from the White House for global sanctions against Iran.  President Obama signed a bill into law on Saturday supporting new, tougher sanctions for financial institutions who do business with the Iranian central bank and the European Union is set to discuss the possibility of an oil embargo later this month.

Confirmation came on Monday of the first Franco-German summit of 2012 to discuss the debt crisis engulfing the euro zone.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on January 9 ahead of an EU-wide summit in Brussels later this month.  The leaders are expected to meet several times ahead of the summit to finalize details on their plans for closer economic integration within the euro zone.  The announcement of the latest bi-lateral meeting follows a number of gloomy predictions for 2012 from European policymakers, including Chancellor Merkel.

Economic data to watch on Tuesday includes manufacturing data from the Republic of Ireland at 7:00am UK time, followed the UK at 9:30am.  German unemployment data for December will be available from 9:00am London time.

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