Dollar gains on euro zone woes, stocks fall

NEW YORK Wed Feb 3, 2010 4:21pm EST

A woman looks at an electronic board with stocks information at a brokerage house in Hefei, Anhui province January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

A woman looks at an electronic board with stocks information at a brokerage house in Hefei, Anhui province January 12, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose broadly on Wednesday, boosted by stable U.S. economic data and fiscal concerns in Europe, while U.S. stocks retreated from a two-day rally on Pfizer's dim outlook and worries about healthcare reform.

Mounting worries that Portugal will be the next country in the euro zone to come under pressure after Greece lifted the greenback against the euro. Spain fiscal deficit also was a concern.

The euro slipped below the key 1.3900 level to a session low of $1.3891, and the cost of insuring Portuguese government bonds against default rose a record 196 basis points, according to CMA DataVision.

MSCI's all-country world index fell 0.4 percent.

U.S. stocks mostly fell after Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) led a broad decline in health-related sectors after the world's biggest drugmaker reported quarterly earnings that missed estimates and forecast profits below expectations.

U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to overhaul the healthcare system and impose stricter regulatory reforms on Wall Street, underscoring the political risk that has driven U.S. stocks lower in recent weeks.

"Political factors are definitely putting a cloud over the market again, and (this) is probably going to put a lid on a rally for awhile until we get some clarity on these reforms," said Scott Marcouiller, senior equity market strategist at Wells Fargo in St. Louis.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 26.30 points, or 0.26 percent, at 10,270.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 6.04 points, or 0.55 percent, at 1,097.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 0.85 points, or 0.04 percent, at 2,190.91.

Oil fell below $77 a barrel after U.S. data showed a rise in crude inventories, raising concerns about continued flagging demand in the world's largest energy consumer.

U.S. crude for March delivery fell 25 cents to settle at $76.98 a barrel. London ICE Brent crude fell 14 cents to settle at $75.92 a barrel.

U.S. commercial stockpiles of crude jumped by 2.3 million barrels last week, far surpassing analysts' forecasts for a 200,000 barrel increase, the Energy Information Administration said.

"The EIA crude build is particularly bearish in light of poor demand. Total products demand in the four weeks to January 29 was down from a year ago and that's very disappointing," said Andy Lebow, broker at MF Global in New York.

U.S. Treasury prices also fell as fears of sovereign risk in Europe faded in the bond market and investors turned their focus to the possibility of better-than-forecast jobs data later in the week.

Investors focused on the possibility of surprisingly good jobs data, which would signal a stronger economic recovery and higher inflation, after an indicator released on Wednesday showed private U.S. employers cut 22,000 jobs in January.

The decline was smaller than the 61,000 jobs lost in December, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

"A lot of guys think the ADP is a harbinger, so maybe there's a chance that Friday's nonfarm payrolls could be a slight positive," said Michael Skinner, a bond trader at Wall Street Access in New York.

The 30-year bond fell 42/32 in price to yield 4.64 percent. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down 17/32 in price to yield 3.70 percent.

Copper prices collapsed to fresh 2-1/2-month lows on the dollar's extended gains, concerns over Chinese monetary tightening and European credit problems, which reflected an uncertain outlook for the global recovery.

Gold turned lower, snapping a two-day winning streak, as a weak euro against the dollar amid fiscal worries in euro-zone countries weighed down on sentiment.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down $6 at $1,112 an ounce in New York.

Japan's Nikkei stock average .N225 edged up 0.3 percent, while Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan as measured by MSCI rose 1.8 percent.

(Reporting by Nick Olivari and Tom Ryan in New York; Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Joanne Frearson in London; writing by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler and Diane Craft)

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