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Swiss franc set for biggest weekly drop in nearly two years

The Swiss franc fell on Friday and is on track to post its biggest weekly drop against the dollar for more than 22 months after breaking through some major technical levels.

Its weakness against the euro was even more pronounced as investors grew more optimistic about euro-denominated assets after recent upbeat comments from policymakers.

"There is some rebalancing flows going through from some model-driven funds after euro/franc cracked through the 1.10 level and with very little option barriers at these levels, this can go higher," Scotiabank's head of Asian FX sales and trading, Gerrard Katz, said.

The franc was trading 0.3 percent weaker against the dollar at 96.77 cents. It has fallen more than 2 percent this week, its biggest weekly drop since October 2015.

The currency was down half a percent at 1.1328 against the euro and traded below a 200-week moving average for the first time since September 2008, according to Reuters data.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) strategists expect more losses on the view that the franc remains the "most overvalued currency in the G10 universe" despite this week's fall.

"The bearish franc trade is an alternative approach to trading better prospects for European Monetary Union economic and political stability," they wrote in a morning note.

The dollar dipped against its major peers on Friday, with a modest early bounce petering out ahead of the second quarter U.S. economic growth data due later in the session.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was a shade lower at 93.755 after edging up 0.2 percent the previous day.

The market's focus was now on second quarter U.S. gross domestic product data due at 1230 GMT.

Economists expect the world's largest economy to have grown about 2.6 percent in the second quarter, from 1.4 percent in the first quarter. A solid outcome will no doubt give the beleaguered dollar some respite from the recent sell-off.

Amazon plows ahead with high sales and spending; profit plunges

Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) on Thursday reported a jump in retail sales along with a profit slump, as its rapid, costly expansion into new shopping categories and countries showed no sign of slowing.

The world's largest online retailer posted second-quarter revenue of $38 billion, up 25 percent from a year earlier. The breakneck growth stood in contrast to the fate of many brick-and-mortar rivals, who have struggled to find their footing as more people shop online.

Yet Seattle-based Amazon posted a 77 percent drop in quarterly income, and even said it could lose up to $400 million in operating profit during the current quarter. Beyond reflecting retail's notoriously thin margins, the forecast signaled Amazon would invest heavily to maintain its dominance.

Shares - up nearly 40 percent this year - fell 3.2 percent to $1,012.68 in after-hours trading. The company had earned 40 cents per share instead of $1.42 as analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Q3 is generally a high investment period," Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said on a call with reporters, citing spending on fulfillment and hiring to prepare the company for the Christmas holiday rush. He added, "Our video content spend will continue to grow, both sequentially and quarter over quarter."

Indeed, investing in faster shipping and video has become a refrain of sorts for the company. While some expected Amazon's spending in these areas - stepped up since last year - to ease, the company is plowing ahead to reinforce its fast-shipping club Prime.

Olsavsky said video content included with Prime membership has helped Amazon retain subscribers and persuade those on a free trial to sign up for $99 per year in the United States. A cornerstone of the company's strategy, Prime encourages shoppers to buy more goods, more often from Amazon.

Subscription sales including Prime fees rose 51 percent in the second quarter to $2.2 billion. Cowen & Co analysts have estimated that more than 50 percent of U.S. households will have Prime membership by the end of 2017.

"The fact that they are investing on so many fronts right now just speaks to the opportunity that they have before them," said Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson. "We are giving them the benefit of doubt here because they have executed so well historically."

NEW FRONTIERS AND COSTS

Shares of Amazon had touched a record high of $1,083.31 earlier on Thursday, helping Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos briefly unseat fellow tech billionaire Bill Gates to become the world's richest person, according to Forbes. His wealth has followed the meteoric rise of Amazon's stock.

From its origins as an online bookseller, Amazon has jumped into areas that historically had barriers to e-commerce, from apparel to appliances. The specter of Amazon's disruption now hangs over a dizzying array of industries.

Grocery is the latest to feel the threat. The company said last month it would buy Whole Foods Market Inc (NASDAQ:WFM) for $13.7 billion, pending regulatory approval.

Olsavsky declined to discuss in detail the company's strategy for the upscale grocer but said, "We really think it will be a big boost for us as we expand our grocery and consumables offering."

Amazon also announced its two-hour delivery service Prime Now in Singapore on Wednesday, part of its ongoing investment to be a major retail player in Asia. Amazon has committed to investing $5 billion in India and earlier this year said it would take on commerce in the Middle East by acquiring Dubai-based Souq.com.

Even excluding the proposed Whole Foods deal, Amazon forecast an operating income of between $300 million and a loss of $400 million for the current quarter. Analysts had expected $931 million, according to FactSet StreetAccount.

"You tend to expect companies like this to grow their expenses at a slower rate than their revenues," said Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities. "G&A up 50 (percent) is crazy," referring to general and administrative costs in the second quarter.

Operating expenses rose 28.2 percent to $37.33 billion in the second quarter ended June 30. Costs for fulfillment, marketing and technology all rose.

Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note Amazon's profit margin was "a bit mixed" but added, "accelerating growth in core retail and relatively steady growth in AWS underpin our positive long-term view."

Sales from Amazon Web Services, the company's cash cow and the biggest cloud-computing business in the world, rose 42 percent to $4.1 billion. The subsidiary will expand in France, Sweden and China in the near future, Olsavsky said.

Oil extends gains after data shows drop in U.S. crude, gas stockpiles

Oil prices extended gains in North American trade on Wednesday, hitting the highest levels in around eight weeks, after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a large drop in domestic crude and gasoline supplies.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude September contract was at $48.39 a barrel by 10:35AM ET (1435GMT), up 50 cents, or around 1.1%. Prices were at around $48.12 prior to the release of the inventory data

Elsewhere, Brent oil for September delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London tacked on 45 cents to $50.65 a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that crude oil inventories fell by 7.2 million barrels in the week ended July 21.

Market analysts' expected a crude-stock decline of around 2.6 million barrels, while the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday reported a supply-drop of 10.2 million barrels.

Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude, decreased by around 1.7 million barrels last week, the EIA said.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 483.4 million barrels as of last week, which the EIA considered to be at the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

The report also showed that gasoline inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels, compared to expectations for a much more modest decline of 0.6 million barrels.

For distillate inventories including diesel, the EIA reported a fall of 2.9 million barrels.

Oil prices scored their biggest one-day rally of 2017 on Tuesday as fresh pledges from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria at the start of the week to respectively pull back on exports and output boosted sentiment.

Elsewhere on Nymex, gasoline futures for August was down half a cent to $1.597 a gallon, while August heating oil added 1.4 cents to $1.582 a gallon.

Natural gas futures for September delivery slumped 2.6 cents to $2.905 per million British thermal units.

Asia shares at highest in nearly a decade, dollar skids on Fed

Stocks, bonds and commodities were all on a roll on Thursday as bulls scented a softening in the Federal Reserve's confidence on inflation that promised to keep U.S. interest rates low for longer.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1 percent to heights not seen since December 2007. It has gained over 5 percent so far this month.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.2 percent, while Eurostoxx 50 futures started steady.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.15 percent, while stocks in the Philippines touched a one-year peak.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index recouped early losses to edge up 0.3 percent as data showed a pick up in profit growth for industrial firms.

The latest rush for risk came after the Fed left U.S. rates unmoved as expected but tweaked its wording on inflation.

The market seized on the fact that the central bank noted that both overall and core inflation had declined and removed the qualifier "recently," perhaps suggesting concerns the slowdown might not be temporary.

The Fed also said it expected to start winding down its massive holdings of bonds "relatively soon," cementing expectations of a September start.

While that would be an effective tightening in financial conditions it might also lessen the need for actual hikes in rates, which matter more for currency valuations.

"The dollar's biggest problem is it can't expect help from the Fed for a long time," said Alan Ruskin, global head of forex at Deutsche.

"In the short term we are still in a risk-favorable loop, whereby subdued goods and services inflation supports a well-behaved bond market and asset inflation. It's just another day in paradise."

A Reuters poll showed most primary dealers still see the Fed's next rate rise in December. But rate futures are pricing in less than 50 percent chance of a hike by then, compared to a little more than 50 percent before the Fed's meeting.

DOLLAR BREAKS LOWER

Bonds rallied in reaction with yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries down at 2.28 percent having fallen 5 basis points overnight. The dollar followed, gouging out a 13-month trough against a basket of currencies at 93.152.

The euro, which had been bumping up against a 23-month top for most of the week, finally broke through to reach as far as $1.1777, its highest since early 2015.

The euro was last buying $1.1736 with the next major target the 200-week average at $1.1807 - a measure it has not traded above since mid-2014.

The dollar was fast approaching the 200-week barrier on its Canadian counterpart, and had breached that technically important level on the Australian dollar. The Aussie duly climbed 0.6 percent to reach $0.8050.

The dollar even fell back against the yen to 111.03, though the damage was somewhat limited by expectations the Bank of Japan would keep its super-easy policies in place longer than most other global central banks.

The prospect of U.S. policy staying stimulative saw Wall Street's fear gauge touch a record low as stocks notched historic closing highs. The Dow ended Wednesday up 0.45 percent, while the S&P 500 added 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq 0.16 percent.

The declining greenback boosted commodities priced in dollars. Spot gold hit a six-week high and was last trading at $1,263.50, while copper reached territory not trod since May 2015.

Oil prices paused near eight-week highs after a surprisingly sharp drop in U.S. inventories encouraged speculation a global crude glut would recede.

A bout of profit-taking in Asia on Thursday saw Brent crude futures ease 7 cents to $50.90 a barrel, while U.S. crude dipped 5 cents to $48.70.

Dollar rises from 13-month low before Fed decision

The dollar edged higher on Wednesday, rising from a 13-month low hit in the previous session as investors trimmed some short bets before a Federal Reserve policy decision.

Markets have reduced expectations for a U.S. interest rate increase in the coming months with expectations of another rate hike at less than 50 percent before the end of the year, according to Reuters polls and CME's Fedwatch tool.

"If there is no change in the language of the statement, we can expect a mild dollar rally and there would be a better opportunity for the Fed to communicate its policy expectations at Jackson Hole next month," Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) currency strategist Ulrich Leuchtmann said.

The dollar edged up 0.1 percent to 94.19 against a trade-weighted basket of its rivals. It fell to a 13-month low of 93.638 on Tuesday.

The U.S. central bank will issue its decision following the end of a two-day policy meeting at 1800 GMT. Economists expect the Fed's benchmark lending rate to remain in a target range of 1.00 percent to 1.25 percent.

The euro was a shade lower at $1.1631. On Tuesday, it rose as high as $1.17125, its highest since August 2015, and just a hair below a 2-1/2-year peak, boosted by a stronger-than-expected German business survey.

The Australian dollar fell after data showed the country's consumer inflation was surprisingly soft in the last quarter.. It shed 0.6 percent to $0.7888.

Crude futures surge 3.3% after Saudis pledge to lower exports

Crude futures settled higher on Tuesday, as investors continued to cheer Saudi Arabia’s pledge to lower crude exports and Opec’s commitment to boost compliance with output cuts to curb excess supplies.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for August delivery rose 3.3% to settle at $47.89 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent added 2.92% to trade at $50.02 a barrel.

At a gathering of ministers from major crude-producing nations in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said his country would limit crude oil exports at 6.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, almost 1 million bpd below levels a year ago.

The Saudi energy minster added that the production-cut agreement could be extended beyond March if necessary but any further extension would rely on non-compliant nations adhering to the agreement.

Opec’s compliance rate – with the deal to curb production –fell to 78% June, the IEA said in its report earlier this month.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said an additional 200,000 bpd of oil could be removed from the market if there is 100% compliance with the OPEC-led deal.

Despite the somewhat positive outcome of the meeting, Opec has its work cut out to curb excess supplies and lower crude stockpiles to the five-year average, which is the target level for Opec and non-Opec members.

Opec said that stocks held by industrial nations had fallen by 90 million barrels in the first six months of the year but were still 250 million barrels above the five-year average.

The rally in crude prices comes ahead of a fresh batch of inventory data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) expected to show that U.S. crude stockpiles fell for a fourth-straight week.

Alphabet adds to cash pile despite higher costs, antitrust fine

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc reported a 21 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Monday, maintaining a growth rate that is rarely seen among companies its size and suggesting the big sales gains enjoyed recently by the other Internet firms are not done yet.

Alphabet, the owner of Google and YouTube, said it made $3.5 billion in net income on sales of $26 billion. The profit would have been much larger but for a record $2.7 billion European Union antitrust fine.

Still, the company noted that costs were rising faster than sales and warned that expenses would remain high as more searches shift to mobile devices.

The squeeze on expected future profit appeared to weigh on Alphabet's share price, which fell about 3 percent to $967 after the bell. Shares had closed up in regular trading and have gained 26 percent for the year.

Alphabet's cost of revenue, a measure of how much money the company must spend to keep its platforms running before added costs such as research, rose 28 percent, well above the growth in revenue itself.

The rising costs, including what Google pays to drive traffic to its search engine, hurt operating margins more than most people had expected, said Doug Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management.

"This could be problematic going forward," Kass said.

Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, asked about margins during a conference call with analysts, said the company was focused on getting bigger.

"As we've often said, we're focused on revenue and operating income dollar growth and not on operating margins," she said.

Increasing costs, Porat added, are a result of more money going into high-growth products that she said would create value for shareholders.

With its latest profits, Alphabet reported $15.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and another $79 billion in marketable securities.

Alphabet and social media rival Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), which together dominate the online ad market, compete for advertising dollars.

This year, Google is expected to have $73.75 billion in net digital ad revenue worldwide while Facebook is expected to take in $36.29 billion, according to research firm eMarketer. Together they will have about 49 percent of the market, eMarketer said.

Facebook is due to report earnings on Wednesday.

The technology sector has led a big rally in U.S. stocks. The S&P 500 information technology index is up 23.1 percent this year, compared with a 10.4 percent rise in the S&P 500.

Antitrust risk has shadowed Google for years, and antitrust enforcers in the European Union last month fined Google 2.42 billion euro ($2.7 billion) for favoring its own shopping service.

The fine came in the first of three EU probes of Google's dominance in searches and smartphone operating systems, and analysts are going to monitor the downside closely, said Josh Olson, an analyst with Edward Jones.

"It is not so much the money or the fine itself," Olson said, but "questions linger about what impact that could have on Google's Europe business, and they did not really comment on that."

U.S. antitrust enforcers thus far have chosen not to follow Europe's lead.

If not for the fine, Alphabet said that earnings per share would have been $8.90 in the second quarter, compared with $7 a year earlier. With the fine, Alphabet reported earnings per share of $5.01, beating an average estimate of $4.49.

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google, said in response to an analyst question during Monday's call that Google would fight to continue bundling its Android operating system with popular smartphone apps such as Google Maps -- a practice the EU antitrust officials are investigating.

"It's a very open market, open ecosystem, and it works well for everyone, and I expect that to continue," Pichai said, adding that billions of people use Google products.

Pichai was also appointed to the Alphabet board of directors on Monday.

Google's ad revenue rose 18.4 percent to $22.67 billion.

Revenue from other Google products, a category that includes the Pixel smartphone, the Play Store and Google's cloud business, rose 42.3 percent to $3.09 billion. Alphabet competes heavily in the fast-growing cloud business with tech companies Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Losses from other Alphabet units - an array of businesses known as "other bets" that includes the Waymo self-driving car company, thermostat-maker Nest and the life sciences firm Verily - narrowed to $772 million from $855 million a year earlier.

Oil extends gains as Saudi pledges export curbs

Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia pledged to curb exports from next month and OPEC called on several members to boost compliance with output cuts to help rein in oversupply and tackle flagging prices.

Gains were also supported by a warning from Halliburton's executive chairman that the growth in North America's rig count was "showing signs of plateauing," a possible threat to U.S. shale oil production.

Global benchmark Brent crude for September delivery was up 22 cents, or 0,5 percent, at $48.82 a barrel by 0705 GMT after settling up 1.1 percent in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 23 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $46.57 a barrel.

In a meeting in St. Petersburg on Monday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers discussed extending their deal to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) beyond March 2018 if necessary.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih added his country would limit its crude exports to 6.6 million bpd in August, almost 1 million bpd below the levels of a year ago.

Nigeria voluntarily agreed to join the deal by capping or cutting its output from 1.8 million bpd, once it stabilizes at that level. Nigeria, which has been producing 1.7 million bpd recently, had been exempt from the output cuts.

OPEC said stocks held by industrial nations had fallen by 90 million barrels over January to June, but were still 250 million barrels above the five-year average, which is the target level for OPEC and non-OPEC.

"Despite the goals for rebalancing, the market is still not sure that inventories would fall precipitously to achieve their target," said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said an additional 200,000 bpd of oil could be removed from the market if compliance to OPEC-led deal was 100 percent.

"In our view ... these meetings were aimed at saving face and diverting the market's attention away from Iraq's poor compliance, shale's resilience, and Libya's and Nigeria's markedly higher output," Britain's Barclays (LON:BARC) bank said.

China's crude imports will exceed 400 million tonnes (8 million bpd) this year and likely grow by double digits next year, a Sinopec Group executive said.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories likely fell by 3 million barrels last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed ahead of a data release from the American Petroleum Institute.

Oil inches up ahead of producer meeting; Nigeria, Libya output in focus

Oil prices inched up but held near a one-week low on Monday ahead of a joint OPEC and non-OPEC meeting later in the day that may address rising output in Nigeria and Libya.

London Brent crude for September delivery was up 12 cents at $48.18 a barrel by 0651 GMT. The contract settled down $1.24, or 2.5 percent, on Friday after a consultancy forecast a rise in OPEC production for July.

NYMEX crude for September delivery was up 7 cents at $45.84 a barrel.

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other non-OPEC producers will meet in the Russian city of St Petersburg on Monday to review market conditions and examine any proposals related to their pact to cut output.

Sources familiar with the talks said the meeting may recommend a conditional cap on production from Nigeria and Libya - two OPEC members so far exempt from output cuts - although some analysts were deeply skeptical the group would make such a move.

"Output cuts by Libya and Nigeria would be next to impossible considering Libya was just re-emerging from the civil war, for example," said Kaname Gokon, strategist for commodities brokerage Okato Shoji in Tokyo.

OPEC and some non-OPEC states including Russia agreed last year to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in a deal that has been extended to March 2018.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Libya and Nigeria should cap output when their output stabilizes, the Financial Times reported.

Kuwait's oil minister, Essam al-Marzouq, said on Saturday that compliance was good with oil production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries and that deeper curbs were possible.

Meanwhile, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said on Sunday that a rebalancing of the oil market is progressing more slowly than expected, but will speed up in the second half of 2017.

"Oil looks likely to remain stuck in a tight range, as investors await any signs that OPEC will intensify its effort to rebalance the market," ANZ bank said.

The United States is considering financial sanctions on Venezuela that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil, sources told Reuters, which could severely restrict the OPEC nation's crude exports.

The International Monetary Fund on Monday kept its growth forecasts for the world economy unchanged for this year and next, although it slightly revised up growth expectations for the eurozone and China.

Asian shares edge up, buoyant euro holds its gains

Asian stocks edged slightly higher on Monday, while the European Central Bank's apparent equanimity at the euro's nearly two-year highs left the dollar languishing.

European markets are expected to open mixed, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets predicting Britain's FTSE 100 to open 0.1 percent lower, Germany's DAX to open little changed, and France's CAC 40 to start the day up 0.1 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed earlier losses to edge up 0.2 percent.

Chinese bluechips and the Shanghai Composite were both up 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent.

But Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.6 percent, pressured by a stronger yen. Australian shares retreated 0.7 percent and South Korea's KOSPI edged down 0.1 percent.

Despite a pullback in Asia-Pacific stocks, sentiment remains solid, said Jim McCafferty, head of equity research for Asia Pacific at Nomura.

"The first three weeks of July have seen continuation of strong first half performance," McCafferty said. "We are just three weeks in to the second half of the year and investors are continuing to like the Asia-Pacific story."

On Friday, global stocks ended a 10-day winning streak, taking a breather from a rally that had propelled them to a record high in the previous session. The index was flat on Monday.

Wall Street indexes ended Friday flat to about 0.15 percent lower, as disappointing earnings from General Electric (NYSE:GE) and energy shares weighed.

European shares also closed lower, with Germany's DAX slumping 1.7 percent, hurt by the euro's strength.

The euro was trading 0.1 percent higher at $1.16715 on Monday, just a whisker below a nearly two-year high of $1.1684 hit earlier in the session.

ECB President Mario Draghi's comments on Thursday, which conspicuously avoided citing the euro's recent strength as a problem, emboldened traders convinced the central bank will begin tapering its bond-buying program later this year.

"There has been very little back-pedaling on the long euro storyline as dealers continue to place much emphasis on Draghi declining the opportunity to talk down the currency post-ECB minutes," Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, wrote in a note.

"And factoring in the expanding U.S. political sinkhole which is weighing on broader USD sentiment, it's unlikely the market has run out of steam," he wrote, adding he expects the euro to test the August 2015 high of $1.1715 "sooner than later".

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, crept higher but remained subdued on Monday.

After touching 93.823, its lowest level since June 2016 early on Monday, it edged up to 93.880, marginally above Friday's close.

The dollar continued to slide against the yen, however, retreating 0.1 percent to 111.020 yen.

Markets are awaiting the Federal Reserve's meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday for an update on its plan to start normalizing its balance sheet.

"All eyes will be on the Fed this week, with market participants eager to see if the Fed formally announces the start of its balance sheet normalization plan or opts to wait until September," Michala Marcussen, global head of economics at Societe Generale(PA:SOGN), wrote in a note.

"We are in the September camp, but we acknowledge that it is a coin toss between this week's meeting and the next one."

In commodities, oil prices roes on expectations that the joint OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting later in the day would address rising production from Nigeria and Libya, two OPEC members exempted from the cuts, bolstered prices.

However, gains were capped by a consultant's forecast of a rise in OPEC production for July despite the group's pledge to curb output, which led to a plunge in prices on Friday.

Global benchmark Brent crude was up 0.1 percent at $48.10 a barrel, after Friday's 2.5 percent tumble, while U.S. crude edged up slightly to $45.79, after Friday's 2.2 percent slump.

Gold shone on the dollar's weakness and a decline in risk appetite, with spot gold just slightly lower at $1,254.31 an ounce, retaining most of Friday's 0.8 percent jump, and slightly below a one-month high hit earlier.