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​European shares relapse into losses as oil prices weaken

TOKYO - European shares fell Monday as oil prices slipped back below $32 a barrel while Asian markets were buoyed for a second day by stimulus hopes.

Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent to 9,717.15 and France's CAC 40 lost 0.7 percent to 4,306.61. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 percent to 5,863.96.

Wall Street looked set for a tepid open: Dow futures were down 0.2 percent and broader S&P 500 futures were essentially flat.

A rally in battered crude oil prices that began Friday appears short-lived. After modest gains earlier in the day, U.S. crude was down $1.10 to $31.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, it shot up $2.66 to $32.19 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost $1.11 to $31.07 a barrel. It gained $2.93, or 10 percent, on Friday to $32.18 a barrel in London.

"Markets have rallied on hints of further easing by the ECB and speculation that the BOJ will follow suit. But there has been no major change in fundamentals to support the rally, and the concern is if and when it fizzles out, markets could even drop below their recent lows," Angus Nicholson of IG said in a commentary.

On Friday European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said the bank has a lot of options to boost inflation and is determined and willing to act. On Thursday Draghi suggested the ECB will consider more stimulus action at its next meeting in March. The signals from Europe also spurred expectations that the Bank of Japan would consider adding to its already lavish stimulus.

Investors shrugged off trade data for December released Monday that showed exports fell for three straight months, though imports fell at a faster pace thanks to the collapse in oil prices. The December trade surplus of 140.2 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared with a deficit of 379.7 billion yen in November and a deficit of 665.6 billion yen in December 2014. Share prices were supported by speculation the central bank may opt for further monetary easing at a two-day policy meeting that starts Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 17,110.91 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.4 percent to 19,340.14. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.8 percent to2,938.51 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.8 percent to 5,006.60. South Korea's Kospi was up 0.7 percent at 1,893.43, and shares in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also were higher.

The dollar edged down to 118.30 yen from 118.79 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.0826 from $1.0799.

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