(Updates prices throughout, adds details)
* MSCI world index flat, set for best year since 2009
* European shares and Wall Street futures reach record highs
* China stocks under pressure as tech shares retreat
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
MILAN, Dec 23 (Reuters) - World stocks hovered near record highs and currency markets were little changed on Monday as trading dwindled before the Christmas holiday and investors looked with confidence towards the new year.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.09% by 1211 GMT after reaching a record high. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended near its highest since June 2018.
The MSCI all-country stock index remained just below Friday’s record high, trading flat. It has risen nearly 3% this month as U.S.-China trade tensions eased and confidence grew that Britain would avoid a chaotic exit from the European Union. The index is up 23% so far in 2019, set for its best year since 2009.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States and China would “very shortly” sign phase one of a trade agreement. It calls for the United States to reduce some tariffs in exchange for China’s buying more American farm products.
China said on Monday it would lower tariffs on products ranging from frozen pork and avocado to some types of semiconductors next year.
“Indeed things appear to look brighter for 2020 than they did a year ago. There should be much more certainty what a trade deal between the US and China is concerned. Furthermore although Brexit will finally become reality in 2020 ... there is hope that this will be accomplished and that Europe’s growth will accelerate,” said City of London Markets trader Markus Huber.
“No doubt some good news is already priced in, but markets are once more being flooded with liquidity/cheap money which should propel them higher,” he said.
On Wall Street, S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq futures all touched record highs before the open.
On Friday, the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 extended its record highs to seven straight sessions, its longest streak in more than two years. All three major U.S. indexes - the S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow - gained.
Data on Friday showed U.S. growth rose in the third quarter and the economy was probably maintained its expansion as the year ended. Consumer spending was stronger than previously reported, and there were upgrades to business spending.
During Asian hours on Monday, Japan’s Nikkei ended little changed after reaching a 14-month top last week. It was up 2.3% for the month so far.
Chinese stocks posted their worst single-day drop in six weeks, weighed down by a correction in tech shares after a state fund announced plans to cut its stakes in some chip makers.
Several stock markets will remain closed at least one day this week for Christmas and economic data is also thin. The only major report this week is the U.S. personal consumption expenditure deflator for November.
In currency markets, the euro was up 0.01% at $1.1080 on the day after slipping 0.4% last week.
Sterling, down 0.17% at $1.3027, reversed earlier gains and fell back to fresh three week lows. It suffered its worst week in three years last week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out extending a transition period for Britain to negotiate a trade deal with the EU beyond the end of 2020.
The safe-haven Japanese yen was down 0.05% at 109.39.
The dollar index was up 0.01% at 97.703 against six major currencies, holding near two-week highs following Friday’s decent U.S. economic data.
In commodities, oil held near recent three-month highs on hopes for a China-U.S. trade deal, although prices initially fell after Russia said an OPEC-led agreement may consider easing output cuts next year.
Brent crude was down 9 cents to $66.23 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 1 cent to $60.43 a barrel.
Spot gold was up 0.36% at $1,483.10 an ounce.
Reporting by Danilo Masoni, additional reporting by Swati Pandey in SYDNEY, editing by Larry King
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