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A forecast downgrade from Goldman Sachs weighed on oil prices Monday, while European stock markets began the week on a perky note ahead of the start of the latest quarterly U.S. corporate reporting season.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 1.6 percent to 9,801 while France's CAC-40 added 1.5 percent to 4,243. Britain's FTSE 100 lagged, trading only 0.3 percent higher at 6,519. Wall Street was poised for solid gains at the open with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.5 percent.

GOLDMAN'S OIL DOWNGRADE: In a wide-ranging note to clients assessing the recent plunge in oil markets, Goldman Sachs slashed its price forecasts for the coming two years. It said the benchmark New York rate would average $50.40 a barrel this year, way down on its previous forecast of $83.75. It also cut its Brent forecast to $70 a barrel from $90. In response, oil prices fell further, with the New York rate down 2.4 percent at $47.20 a barrel, while Brent slid 3 percent to $48.62.

ANALYST TAKE: "I think we're going to see plenty more volatility in the coming days as pressure mounts on oil producers to scale back production before prices get dangerously low," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

U.S. ECONOMY: As well as keeping a close watch on markets, investors have a raft of developments in the U.S. to digest, not least the start of the U.S. reporting season. Alcoa Inc., as tradition dictates, will kick it off in an after-hours statement Monday. Others due to report this week include JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo Bank. There's also a lot of economic data to digest this week, including retail sales and industrial production. Investors will want to see if they continue the solid trend seen of late, notably in Friday's employment report showing the U.S. enjoyed its best jobs growth in 2014 since 1999.

GREECE ELECTION LOOMING: The Greek general election on Jan. 25 will also increasingly pre-occupy the minds of investors. Though opinion polls show the anti-bailout Syriza party on course to win the election, few think it will be able to govern without the support of other parties. Diminishing fears of a Greek exit from the euro have helped ease the pressure on the country's bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond has fallen by 0.66 percentage points to 9.32 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.7 percent to 3,229.32 and Seoul's Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,920.95. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 24,045.96. Benchmarks in Sydney, Taiwan, Manila and Jakarta declined while Singapore and New Zealand rose. Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar remained firm in the currency markets, with the euro down 0.5 percent at $1.1790 and near nine-year lows. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was up 0.5 percent to 119.16 yen.


PAN PYLAS, AP Business Writer

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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