GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. stocks fall, central bank meetings loom

Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:26am EDT

* Dollar under pressure at five-week low ahead of Federal Reserve

* European shares boosted by M&A activity

* Nikkei plumbs four-week lows, other Asian markets also softer

* Data, Fed, ECB, Bank of England meetings pose hurdles this week

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell and the U.S. dollar languished near a five-week low on Monday ahead of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting where the U.S. central bank is expected to reaffirm its commitment to keep benchmark interest rates low.

Stock sentiment reflected a fall in contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes in June, retreating from a more than six-year high touched the prior month, suggesting rising mortgage rates were starting to dampen home sales.

"The focus right now is the Fed meeting and then the employment numbers at the end of the week," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 35.44 points, or 0.23 percent, at 15,523.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 3.81 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,687.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.87 points, or 0.05 percent, at 3,611.30.

Jankovskis said investors will try to decipher what the Fed knows about the U.S. jobs report a couple of days in advance, which could make Wednesday "even more volatile than it usually is" on Fed statement days.

On Friday, the U.S. payrolls report will be released, with forecasts for 185,000 jobs being added in July and a dip in the jobless rate to 7.5 percent. A strong report would support the case for the Fed to start rolling back its stimulus in September and help the dollar.

The dollar was down 0.2 percent against the yen at 98.06 yen while the dollar index was last up 0.16 percent after earlier touching a five week low of 81.785.

Benchmark 10-year notes slipped 4/32 in price, their yields edging up to 2.58 percent from 2.57 percent late on Friday. Ten-year yields have ranged from around 2.43 percent to 2.63 percent in the last two weeks, after hitting two-year highs of 2.76 percent on July 8.

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