GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares, bonds slip, Fed officials back easy policy

Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:35pm EST

* Wall Street erases some losses on dovish Feds comments

* Fed presidents Lockhart, Kocherlakota urge accommodative policy

* U.S. Treasuries weaken; Brent, U.S. crude fall

* Dollar climbs to one-month peak vs yen, nears 100 yen

By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Global equity markets and government debt prices slipped on Tuesday and the dollar rose as investors contemplated prospects for fewer bond purchases by the Federal Reserve, a critical support for asset prices and the economy.

German Bunds also hit three-week lows, tracking weaker prices for U.S. Treasuries, as investors made room for this week's latest supply of U.S. government debt.

A measure of global equity performance was down slightly as stocks on Wall Street and in Europe fell.

U.S. stocks posted modest losses a day after the Dow Jones industrial average hit yet another record close and after a five-week rally.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 32.43 points, or 0.21 percent, at 15,750.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 4.20 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,767.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.13 points, or 0.00 percent, at 3,919.92.

Even as nervousness about the Fed eventually pursuing a less stimulative monetary policy weighed on stocks and on bond prices, the day's steepest losses were erased when remarks by Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota traversed the news wires.

"Kocherlakota was very dovish," said Jeffrey Cleveland, senior economist at Los Angeles-based Payden & Rygel, with $85 billion in assets.

Speaking in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kocherlakota said there was "no reason to be afraid of monetary stimulus," given that inflation is "low relative to where we want it to be."

Reducing the pace of Fed bond purchases would be a drag on an already slow recovery, Kocherlakota said, adding that interest rates should stay low until unemployment falls to 5.5 percent as long as inflation remains in check.

"He's talking about a 5-1/2 percent threshold for unemployment instead of the Fed's current 6-1/2 threshold," Cleveland emphasized.

Lockhart, citing downside risks to the 2014 economic outlook, said monetary policy overall should remain "very accommodative for quite some time."

Even if the Fed does trim its bond purchases - a Reuters poll of primary dealers on Friday found a majority of respondents believe that would not happen until March or later - other far-reaching factors could temper the volatility that could ensue from a Fed tapering.

"There's a great yearning for stability, so higher yields will bring cash off the sidelines into fixed-income assets," said Matt Toms, head of public fixed income at ING Investment Management. Those flows would keep downward pressure on rates.

Another theme that would tend to keep interest rates low is that the Fed, along with the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, "fear deflation," Toms observed.

In overseas trading, MSCI's all-country world equity index fell 0.2 percent after two days of gains, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares fell 0.59 percent.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 8/32 in price to yield 2.78 percent.

The fallout of forecast-beating U.S. jobs data on Friday erased Bund gains triggered by the European Central Bank's surprise interest rate cut a day earlier.

The Bund future settled down 38 ticks at 140.63.

The dollar rose to a one-month peak against the yen as investors began to bet the Fed will begin trimming stimulus sooner than previously anticipated.

The dollar was last up 0.49 percent at 99.64 yen, with the peak of 99.79 yen its strongest since Sept. 13.

The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.3435 and holding above a two-month low of $1.3295 hit last Thursday, when it sold off sharply after the ECB's unexpected rate cut.

Brent crude futures initially rose as disruptions to Libyan oil exports showed no sign of abating and Iran said splits between Western powers had prevented a breakthrough in nuclear talks that could relax sanctions.

Brent crude for December delivery settled down 0.26 cents at $106.14 a barrel. U.S. crude for December delivery was down $2.01 cents at $93.13 a barrel.