European markets open lower, Asia mostly closed
European markets traded lower in the opening minutes of trade as investors remain cautious due to absence of any major economic drivers as well as lack of cues from the Asian markets which remain closed on account of Lunar New Year holidays.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.3 percent to 1159.05.
The UK's FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent. France's CAC-40 added 0.06 percent.
Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's Ibex were down 0.4 percent and 0.1 percent respectively.
Major data that traders look for in the week ahead include inflation report from the Bank of England (BOE) and the preliminary eurozone GDP data for the final three months of 2012. Other highlight of the week is the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama.
In Europe, finance chiefs of the region would be meeting in Brussels to discuss aid to Cyprus and Greece as well as risk of competitive currency devaluation. With the agreement on European Union budget deal, the focus now has been shifted to Italy's elections which is to be held between 24-25 February and the political scandal in Spain.
In the previous week, EU leaders manage to strike a deal worth €960bn (£818bn/$1.29tn) on the bloc's next budget and China posted improved trade data.
Elsewhere in Asia, Australia's S&P/ ASX 200 Index ended 0.2 percent down at 4,959.50 though the early hours of trade witnessed positive momentum in market activity. New Zealand's benchmark NZSX 50 index closed 0.1 percent lower.
In Australia, JB Hi-Fi Ltd, games and entertainment retailer jumped 17 percent after it reported first-half profit of three percent to AU$ 82m ($84.7m) and forecast a seven percent rise in full-year profit.
Mining stocks such as BHP Billiton and Alumina were down 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
Stock indices in the Philippines and Indonesia gained 0.3 percent each while India's BSE Sensitive index or Sensex rose 0.1 percent.
Other regional bourses including equity markets in Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia were closed for public holidays.
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