GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. worries weaken shares, euro bounces on Greek report

Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:35am EST

* World shares fall for fifth day, Wall St set to open lower

* Uncertainties over Greece and U.S. fiscal cliff hit sentiment

* Euro trims losses on report Germany preparing Greek aid payment

* Oil, gold slip as investors worry over global demand

By Richard Hubbard

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - World shares fell for a fifth day on Tuesday after international lenders clashed over help for Greece, but the euro bounced back on a report that Germany wants to bundle aid payments to Athens into a single jumbo deal.

Worries about the looming fiscal crisis in the United States kept U.S. share markets under pressure, with stock index futures pointing to a lower start on Wall Street.

Investors had initially sold shares and the euro in reaction to a public dispute between the euro zone and the IMF over the longer-term target date for Greece to shrink its debts which threatened to rekindle the region's crisis.

The MSCI world equity index was down 0.3 percent to 321.90 points by 1230 GMT, off its lows for the day but down at a level not seen since early September.

German newspaper Bild said Berlin was working on a single aid package of more than 44 billion euros ($55.9 billion) to cover Greek debt repayments this year. Shares trimmed their losses and the euro gained following the report, which cited government sources.

A finance ministry spokeswoman said no final decision had been made on the next loan payments to Greece, and it was not clear when any jumbo funding might go through. H owever, the report soothed some fears that Athens might default and have to leave the euro zone.

"If there are signs that Greece could get a disbursement before they run dry of money that would give the euro a boost," said Dag Muller, technical analyst at SEB.

The shift in sentiment left the euro little changed at $1.2703, having earlier dropped around 0.3 percent to $1.2 661 <E UR=>, its lowest since Sept. 7.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index index of top European shares which had been down over down 0.6 percent, recovered to be off 0.35 percent at 1,090.18. London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX all fell over 0.5 percent.

EUROPE FEARS REKINDLED

The euro started weaker after euro zone finance ministers said Greece should be given until 2022 to meet a goal for reducing its debt mountain to a more manageable level, but International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde insisted the existing target of 2020 should stay.

Behind the differences was a debate over whether euro zone governments should write off some of their Greek debt holdings to help Athens, an idea which Germany opposes.

A weak German ZEW investor sentiment survey, which showed a drop to -15.7 in November from -11.5 in October, also heightened concerns about the impact of the euro zone crisis on Europe's largest economy and knocked the euro.

Analysts said the ZEW index had increased the likelihood of a recession in Germany.

"The ZEW looks broadly consistent with economic stagnation in Germany. But we think the economy will slide back into recession next year as the peripheral debt crisis intensifies and business and consumer confidence weaken further." said Jennifer McKeown, European economist at Capital Economics.

WASHINGTON RETURNS

U.S. markets focused on the return of lawmakers to Washington after last week's elections, with only seven weeks to reach agreement on scheduled automatic tax hikes and budget cuts that threaten to trigger another recession.

President Barack Obama has scheduled talks with business, civic and labour leaders on Tuesday before of a meeting set for Friday of top Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Analysts say a failure to reach a compromise would also threaten the Federal government's ability to keep borrowing, and could see its credit rating downgraded.

S&P 500 futures SPc1 were down 0.4 percent at 1,372.50 points, Dow Jones industrial average futures dropped 0.4 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.6 percent

U.S. Treasuries also reflected the growing concerns that a compromise may be difficult to achieve with 10-year yields falling to 1.593 percent from 1.613 percent on Friday. The U.S. Treasury market was closed on Monday for the Veterans' Day holiday.

CHINA CONCERN

Earlier MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1 percent to hit a seven-week low after shares in China and Hong Kong fell sharply on worries about the outlook for the world's second largest economy.

The falls were triggered when China's state media reported that government curbs on the housing market would remain, raising fears that the Communist Party congress would bring little change in economic policies.

The uncertainty over the euro zone's debt problems and the caution over a U.S. fiscal policy standoff spread across the commodity markets.

U.S. crude futures fell 0.25 percent to $85.40 a barrel and Brent dropped 0.5 percent to $108.56.

"There is plenty of oil and the market is well supplied, but t he economic outlook both in the United States and Europe is weak and that's putting downward pressure on prices," said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.

Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,726.24 an ounce, down from a 3-week high of around $1,738 struck on Friday. Despite the recent fall, gold is still up around 10 percent so far this year.

"Gold's rally may be starting to show signs of topping out, as investors seem to be discounting the possibility of a fiscal cliff deal being reached," INTL FCStone said in a note.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.