GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks flat despite soft U.S. data; dollar down

Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:37am EST

* World stocks flat with Italy in focus
    * U.S. retail sales fall in January
    * Wall Street stocks near flat in early trading


    By Caroline Valetkevitch
    NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - World stock markets were little
changed on Thursday after U.S. data suggested slower growth in
the first quarter and as corporate earnings forecasts
disappointed, while the dollar fell to a two-week low against
the euro.
    In Europe, shares dipped as investors focused on political
uncertainty in Italy, where Prime Minister Enrico Letta defied
pressure to make way for the centre-left leader Matteo Renzi.
 
    U.S. bond prices rose after data showed U.S. retail sales
fell unexpectedly in January and the number of Americans filing
new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week.
 
    Wall Street stocks turned slightly higher after trading down
at the open, pressured by a disappointing outlook from Cisco
Systems. Cisco shares fell 4.3 percent to $21.86.
    "Essentially, it's a story of renewed concern that the
recovery in the U.S. may be headed for a speed bump which may be
more than weather-related," said Millan Mulraine, deputy head of
research and strategy at TD Securities in New York.
    In Italy, the stand-off threatens to pull apart a coalition
government patched together after last year's deadlocked
elections. That would further hamper efforts to turn around the
country's sputtering economy.
    Italian stocks were last down 0.2 percent after
dropping as much as 1.2 percent earlier. European stocks snapped
a week-long winning streak, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst
300 index down 0.2 percent. 
    Shares of Swiss food group Nestle fell 1.6 percent
after it said it may undershoot its long-term growth targets
again this year. 
    The broad MSCI All-Country World Index was
flat, cutting earlier losses, while MSCI's index of emerging
market stocks was down 0.9 percent after rising on
Wednesday.
    Among still-jittery emerging markets, Ukraine's ongoing woes
saw the hryvnia currency and its sovereign bonds tumble. In
Nigeria, Africa's second-biggest economy, fresh government
sackings left the naira near a two-year low. 
    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.49 points or
0.04 percent, to 15,970.43, the S&P 500 gained 2.15
points or 0.12 percent, to 1,821.41 and the Nasdaq Composite
 added 16.688 points or 0.4 percent, to 4,217.976. 
    
    BOND PRICES UP, DOLLAR DOWN
    Treasury debt prices rose after two days of losses.
Benchmark 10-year Treasuries were up 6/32 in price
to yield 2.74 percent. 
    The dollar index was down 0.4 percent at 80.494. It
fell 0.53 percent against both the yen and euro, to 101.99 yen
and $1.3660 respectively.  
    Oil prices were lower as well, though Brent's losses were
limited by a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA),
which said developed world inventories fell by 137 million
barrels at the end of last year, for the steepest quarterly
decline since 1999. 
    Brent crude was down 39 cents at $108.40 a barrel
while U.S. crude oil was down 10 cents at $100.27.