* World stocks fall on worries over U.S. fiscal cliff
* Euro falls before Greece vote on austerity
* U.S. bonds, gold, dollar rise on safe-haven bids
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, Nov 7 World shares and the euro fell
on Wednesday as traders turned their focus to the festering
fiscal problems in the United States and Europe after the
re-election of President Barack Obama signaled no dramatic shift
in U.S. economic policies.
Jittery investors scrambled for less-risky assets, with
benchmark U.S. Treasuries poised for their best one-day move
Concerns persisted whether Obama could reach a timely deal
with Republican lawmakers to avert the "fiscal cliff" -- the
$600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to
kick in on Jan. 1. Economists warned such a move would tip the
world's biggest economy into a recession.
"Unfortunately, the honeymoon doesn't last very long in real
time and we knew that regardless of the outcome of the election,
our focus would immediately be shifted to the 'fiscal cliff,'
which is going to be difficult in and of itself," said Art
Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
Traders also monitored the developments in Greece, where
parliament votes late in the day on an austerity package needed
to secure a fresh injection of EU/IMF aid and avert bankruptcy.
There will be a follow-up vote on Sun day on an austerity budget
Greece's solvency is seen as vital in the support of the
euro and the region's economy, which has deteriorated due to
slowing global demand and a battered banking system.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the ECB
expects the euro zone economy to remain weak "in the near term"
and euro zone governments must press ahead with efforts to forge
closer financial, fiscal, economic and political union.
"A lot depends on this vote today in Greece, so I think it
is a little bit of wait-and-see," said Mark Priest, Head of
Index & Equity Market Making at ETX Capital in London.
In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average
was down 240.30 points, or 1.81 percent, at 13,005.38. The
Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 26.57 points, or
1.86 percent, at 1,401.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index
was down 55.58 points, or 1.85 percent, at 2,956.36.
Energy shares succumbed to intense selling pressure, as
companies in the sector will likely see more regulation in
Obama's second term, with less access to federal lands and water
even as the administration promotes energy independence. James
River Coal tumbled 20 percent to $3.77 a share.
The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top European shares
slid 1 percent to 1,103.62.
Bucking the market were French banking stocks. They were
helped by BNP Paribas' forecast-beating quarterly
earnings, which sent its shares 2 percent higher to 39.93 euros.
European and Asian stock markets rose initially on relief
buying when U.S. election results for the White House and
Congress were clear cut and reinforced expectations the Federal
Reserve's ultra-loose monetary policy will continue.
The MSCI world equity index was briefly 0.4
percent higher before falling 1.1 percent to 328.12.
"The fact the election is over is obviously positive for the
market. Markets don't like uncertainty and there was always the
worry that it was going to drag on," ETX's Priest said.
As worries over the U.S. fiscal cliff and Greece's austerity
votes moved to the forefront, investors flocked to the safety of
low-risk assets, including the greenback, gold and U.S. and
German government bonds.
The dollar recovered from early losses, resuming its rally
during this week's tense run-up to the U.S. election. It was up
0.2 percent against a basket of currencies, touching a
two-month high earlier.
The euro on the other hand fell 0.4 percent to
$1.2755, retreating from a session high of $1.2876.
Gold rose for a third straight session. It was up 0.5
percent to a one-week high of $1,724.21 an ounce.
In the bond market, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes
was 1.634 percent, a 12-basis point decline from
late on Tu esday, on track for its biggest single-day drop since
May 30, according to Reuters data.
German Bund futures climbed 71 basis points, or 0.5
percent, at 142.80.
Worries about weaker energy demand caused a sell-off in the
oil market after it rallied on Tuesday. Brent crude oil
fell $2.05 to $109.02 a barrel and U.S. oil futures fell
$2.56 to $86.15.