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GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors play safe around the world as Syria tensions rise
April 11, 2017 / 3:09 PM / 6 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors play safe around the world as Syria tensions rise

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Safety bid sends gold higher, bonds rally

* Europe stocks edge down after Asia dips

* Wall Street indexes fall, oil reverses gains

* Emerging market stocks down for fourth straight day (Updates with U.S. trading, adds commentary, changes byline, previous dateline London)

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - Nervous investors sought shelter in gold, Treasuries and the yen on Tuesday as tensions between the United States and Russia over Syria took center stage after comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

U.S. indexes were lower while European shares reversed slight gains amid uncertainty over the looming French presidential election.

Tillerson traveled for a visit to Moscow with a unified message from world powers, denouncing Russian support for Syria, after a meeting with foreign ministers of the Group of Seven major advanced economies and Middle East allies.

Western countries blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a deadly gas attack last week. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by firing cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood by Moscow’s ally Assad, who denies blame.

U.S. Treasury yields fell on Tuesday for a second straight day as anxiety about possible U.S. military strikes against Syria and North Korea and the outcome of the coming French election spurred demand for low-risk government debt.

“Any escalation in geopolitical concerns could push us back lower in yields,” said Justin Lederer, Treasury strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

However, yields trimmed their fall after government data that showed an increase in job openings in February.

The yield on benchmark Treasury 10-year notes US10YT=RR was last at 2.328 percent, down 3.3 basis points from late on Monday, while the 30-year yield US30YT=RR was nearly 3 basis points lower at 2.959 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 94.39 points, or 0.46 percent, to 20,563.63, the S&P 500 lost 15.61 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,341.55 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 52.14 points, or 0.89 percent, to 5,828.78.

Emerging market stocks were down 0.4 percent, on track for their fourth straight day of declines.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was down 0.3 percent. The U.S. dollar was down 0.7 percent and the euro fell 0.5 percent against the broadly stronger Japanese yen. The euro hit an almost five-month low versus the yen.

Along with concerns about Syria investors were also looking anxiously to France where the latest polls showed far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon gaining against the rest of the pack before the first round of voting on April 23.

The pan-European STOXX 600 share index fell 0.4 percent. MSCI’s main index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan fell 0.3 percent.

Gold, viewed in times of global tension as a safe place to store wealth, last traded up 1 percent on the day at almost $1,266.96 an ounce. It hit a five-month high above $1,270 on Friday after the U.S. missile strike.

Oil retreated from five-week highs hit earlier in the day as concerns about rising U.S. shale production offset support from tensions in the Middle East and production cuts in OPEC and other states.

Global benchmark Brent fell 0.5 percent to $55.69, breaking a six-session winning streak. U.S. crude was down 0.4 percent at $52.90 per barrel.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Additional reporting by Richard Leong and Dion Rabouin in New York, Kit Rees, John Geddie, Ritvik Carvalho and Nigel Stephenson in London; Editing by Keith Weir, Pritha Sarkar and Frances Kerry

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