Global stocks mostly down as strong Yen hits Nikkei

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NEW YORK (AFP) – Global stocks mostly fell Monday, with Japanese shares taking a hit as a stronger yen weighed on exporters after the G7 pressed Japan not to weaken its currency.

Equity markets dropped in Europe as investors continued to mull over the prospect the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in June.

Worries about the Fed were also a drag in the US, where stocks finished modestly down.

Lower oil prices also hit sentiment, with petroleum producers including Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, Japan s Inpex and the US Chevron all falling.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent as investors digested weak trade figures and the unsympathetic reception by other countries to Japanese talk of intervening in the currency market.

At a weekend gathering, the Group of Seven presented a clear rebuff to Tokyo s warnings that it may intervene take action to stop the yen s rise.

The group agreed on the “importance of all countries refraining from competitive devaluation”, while US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pressed Tokyo to uphold its earlier commitments not to interfere with exchange rates.

The statement “signaled a red light for Tokyo to intervene to weaken its currency,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

In corporate news, German chemicals giant Bayer announced a $62 billion bid for US agriculture group Monsanto in the biggest takeover ever attempted by German company. Bayer argued the deal would make it a global leadier in the farm technology.

But the move spells a public relations risk for Bayer, especially in Germany, where popular skepticism is high of the genetically modified crops and patented plant varieties the Monsanto specialiZes in. There is also concern about the health risks of the pesticide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup.

Bayer dropped 5.7 percent, while Monsanto surged 4.4 percent. Monsanto has not responded publicly to the offer, which comes amid a wave of consolidation in the agrochemical sector.

US tech giant Apple jumped 1.3 percent after Taiwan s Economic Daily News reported the technology giant ordered at least 72 million units of the upcoming iPhone 7 series, a significantly higher figure than the 65 million-level previously predicted by some analysts.

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