WASHINGTON: European stocks and bond yields edged lower on Monday and the dollar briefly hit a six-week low after US President Donald Trump began his term in office with a protectionist speech that drove a nervous market into safe-haven assets.

Wall Street was set to open slightly lower, tracking stock markets in Europe and parts of Asia, having hit multi-year highs earlier this month on expectations Trump would boost growth and inflation with extraordinary fiscal spending measures.

However, his inaugural address on Friday, signaling an isolationist stance on trade and other issues, led investors to retreat to the safety of higher-rated government bonds.

Trump also made it clear that he plans to hold talks with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

US stock futures were down 0.2 percent, pointing to a lower open after European stocks touched their lowest levels this year in early trades. By midday, the broad STOXX index had come off the day's lows but was still down 0.3 percent.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.1 percent while shares in Australia fell 0.8 percent after Trump's administration also declared its intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade pact that Japan and Australia have both signed.

Other Asian shares were more resilient, however, in part due to dollar weakness, and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent.

"The focus this morning is on the protectionist rhetoric and the lack of detail on economic stimulus, so it's a nervous start (to the presidency)," said Investec economist Victoria Clarke.

"The other concern is how the Fed interprets Trump's stance, the worry being the less he does on fiscal stimulus the more nervous they may get on pushing the rate hikes through."

The US Federal Reserve, which has indicated it expects to raise its benchmark interest rate three times this year, is due to hold its next meeting on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

Rabobank analyst Michael Avery said a more protectionist United States could lead to a US dollar liquidity squeeze, with Mexico and Asia likely the most badly hit.

"We would see outright confusion over what currency to invoice, trade, and borrow in: a 19th century world of competing reserve currencies in different geographic zones, but without the underpinning of gold," Avery said in a note.

The problem would be exacerbated if China tightens capital controls further, he said.

The US dollar was down 0.4 percent against a basket of six major currencies.

The nervous start on Monday saw safe-haven assets in demand.

The yield on Germany's 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the region, led most euro zone bonds lower and was down 2 basis points to 0.34 percent.

This followed 10-year US Treasuries yields, which fell to 2.43 percent, after having risen briefly on Friday to 2.513 percent, their highest since Jan. 3.

Spot gold prices, meanwhile, rose on Monday to their highest in two months.