* World, U.S. stocks fall after Reid comments
* Oil eases; U.S. bond prices up
* Yen hits 2-year low as monetary easing eyed
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Dec 27 World stocks slipped on
Thursday after comments from the U.S. Senate majority leader
that the economy may be poised to go off the "fiscal cliff,"
while the yen hit a two-year low on expectations of aggressive
Democrat Harry Reid criticized Republicans for refusing to
go along with any tax increases as part of a U.S. budget remedy
and said the economy seemed to be heading over the "fiscal
cliff" of impending tax hikes and spending cuts.
Economists warn that the $600 billion in higher taxes and
spending cuts set to kick in from January could push the world's
largest economy into recession, dragging other countries with
U.S. stocks fell to session lows after Reid's comment, while
world stocks dipped into negative territory.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was
down 105.04 points, or 0.80 percent, at 13,009.55. The Standard
& Poor's 500 Index was down 13.70 points, or 0.96
percent, at 1,406.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index was
down 29.35 points, or 0.98 percent, at 2,960.80.
Shares of U.S. retailers fell for a second day following the
Christmas holiday. The Morgan Stanley retail index was
down 1.5 percent while the SPDR S&P Retail Trust lost
The MSCI global index was last down 0.4
percent, while European shares ended down 0.04 percent.
"Unfortunately, a term all of us are sick of hearing - the
'fiscal cliff' - appears to be dominating all aspects of the
financial market and consumer confidence," said Joe Heider,
principal at Rehmann Financial in Cleveland, Ohio.
U.S. President Barack Obama is traveling back to Washington
on Thursday, cutting short his holiday to try to get a budget
deal with Republican lawmakers.
EURO DIPS, YEN SLUMPS
The dollar rose to 85.92 yen, its highest since
August 2010. It was last up 0.4 percent on the day at 85.91 yen
with option barriers cited at 86 yen and stop-loss buy orders
above 86.10 yen.
Investors accelerated their yen sales after Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe said his newly formed government would pursue a bold
monetary policy, a flexible fiscal policy and a growth strategy
to encourage private investment.
The yen has fallen roughly 10.5 percent versus the dollar in
2012, its biggest annual drop since 2005. At the same time,
Japan's benchmark Nikkei is now up 22 percent for the year.
"Yen weakness, based on expectations that the new Japanese
government will succeed in driving the dollar to 90 yen with a
combination of more aggressive monetary and fiscal policy, is
offering support to other currencies," said Marc Chandler,
global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in
The euro touched New York lows of $1.3214 following
Reid's comments. It last stood at $1.3215, flat to slightly
lower on the day.
The euro tends to benefit when U.S. budget negotiations run
smoothly, but when there are snags, investor flows go into the
safe-haven and highly liquid dollar.
U.S. BONDS TRADE HIGHER, OIL EASES
Prices on longer-dated U.S. Treasuries were higher. The bond
market began trimming its decline earlier on data that showed a
bigger-than-expected drop in American consumer confidence in
December, spurring worries about flagging consumer spending
causing a U.S. recession.
Benchmark 10-year Treasuries prices were 10/32
higher in price, yielding 1.7147 percent, compared with being
down by 2/32 before the confidence data and Reid's remarks.
Oil prices eased in choppy trading as the unresolved U.S.
budget left open the possibility that looming mandated tax hikes
and spending cuts could push the economy of the No. 1 oil
consuming nation into recession.
Brent February fell 67 cents to $110.40 a barrel,
while U.S. February crude was down 23 cents at $90.75 a