On Sunday, Greece's new leftist government began its drive to persuade a skeptical Europe to accept a new debt agreement while it starts to roll back on austerity measures imposed under its existing bailout agreement. It seeks to end the existing arrangement with the European Union, the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund "troika" when its aid deadline expires on Feb. 28.
Asian shares got off to a downbeat start on Monday, after weekend Chinese data raised concerns about growth in the world's second-largest economy. The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in January, a low last seen in September, 2012 and below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
MSCI was down about 0.1 percent, while the Nikkei dropped 0.7 percent in early trade. Sagging U.S. Treasury yields also undermined the greenback's appeal, as investors fled to the safety of U.S. fixed-income assets. The benchmark 10-year yield was at 1.652 percent in Asian trading, down from its U.S. close of 1.68 percent on Friday, when it fell as low as 1.646 percent, a level not seen since May, 2013.
Oil prices skidded after the downbeat economic data raised concern about demand, giving back some of Friday's gain after a record weekly drop in U.S. oil drilling triggered a short-covering rally on the final trading day of the month. Brent shed 1.6 percent to $52.13 a barrel, while U.S. crude slipped 1.9 percent to $47.32. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was quoted at 94.89, down 0.17%. Meanwhile, the euro was under pressure after data showed that deflation in the single currency bloc deepened in January amid growing concerns over Greece's future in the euro zone.