By Anna Hirtenstein
European stocks drifted lower Monday, easing away from last week's record, on concern that U.K. businesses may face fresh hurdles for operations within the European Union if the British government adopts a different set of regulations.
U.S. stock futures were largely flat, with markets scheduled to remain closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Big technology stocks helped lead all three of the major U.S. indexes to a record close on Friday as the sealing of the U.S.-China trade deal, corporate earnings and economic data combined to fuel optimism about the economy.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index slid 0.1%, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 gauge slipped about 0.3%.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the U.K.'s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid urged businesses to prepare for a new operating environment as the country is unlikely to stay in lockstep with Brussels rules after the end of the year. His comments prompted concern among car makers and other manufacturers about the potential for new hurdles to exports when the transition period ends.
The pound slipped 0.1% against the dollar to trade at $1.2998.
"The Chancellor continues to firmly suggest there's been no headfake from them and there's an intention to allow the U.K. to diverge from EU rules and regulations and have less of a close trading relationship," said James Athey, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. "That's negative news to some: we're seeing the sterling and European risk assets moving down a bit."
Among European equities, BAE Systems rose 3.8% after the U.K. defense-and-aerospace company said it would buy Collins Aerospace's military GPS business and Raytheon's radio division for about $2.2 billion to expand its electronics system operations.
Airline stocks slipped following a rise in oil prices. Air France-KLM was the biggest loser, declining 4.6%. International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways, fell 1.9% and Deutsche Lufthansa retreated 2%.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.7% up after the People's Bank of China left its benchmark lending rates unchanged for the second straight month.
Oil prices rallied after a key export pipeline in western Libya was blocked, forcing additional production cuts a day after a port blockade had already halved the country's output. Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, advanced as much at 1.3% to $65.72, the highest since mid-December, before trading up 0.6%.
Later in the day, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is scheduled to give a talk that may offer fresh insights into her thinking about monetary policy for the region.
Write to Anna Hirtenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org