Asian shares got off to a shaky start on Monday as recent rallies offered traders a profit-taking opportunity, while the dollar edged away from recent peaks in early trading. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down about 0.1% after touching its highest levels since September in the previous week. Japan's Nikkei stock average was nearly flat in early trading, after rising above 20,000 on Friday for the first time in 15 years. Later today, China will release trade figures for March 2015. They might offer some clues ahead of its spate of data on Wednesday, which include first quarter economic output, monthly factory activity, retail sales, and investment reports.
Investors will cast a wary eye on the latest gauges of the USA’s economic health this week, while troubled Europe shows early signs of turning the corner. ECB President Mario Draghi will be able to claim an early success in the bank's fledgling money printing program, with figures on Friday set to confirm that falling prices throughout the 19-country euro zone are beginning to stabilize. The ECB's long-awaited scheme to buy 60 billion euros a month of chiefly government bonds is also helping to steady nerves in wrangling with debt-strapped Greece. Just across the Channel, United Kingdom is becoming the focus in Europe, as investors brace for volatility in the value of sterling ahead of a tightly contested national election on May 7.
Oil prices edged up in early Asian trading on Monday following a strong session on Friday, as financial traders increased their bets on higher prices amid a slowdown in U.S. drilling. On Tuesday, USA will release March retail sales data. Although economists expect a rebound, shoppers are being cautious, holding back much of the savings made on lower petrol prices.