* Euro at 6-week high vs dollar
* Global equity markets trade lower
* Investors cautious as Fed policy-makers talk tapering
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Dec 10 Global equity markets traded
slightly lower on Tuesday while the dollar and U.S. Treasury
yields eased on a growing view that the Federal Reserve will
need additional positive data before it decides to scale back
its economic stimulus.
The euro hit a six-week high against the dollar as traders
reconsidered whether the Fed would trim its monthly purchases of
$85 billion in bonds at its two-day meeting next week. Earlier,
the euro hit a five-year peak against the yen.
Even if the Fed were to signal a pullback in bond purchases,
policymakers will likely opt for a small one to prevent a bond
market selloff, which would send long-term interest rates higher
and hurt the U.S. housing market.
"We might see a gradual tapering. The Fed won't let rates go
much higher," said Larry Milstein, head of government and agency
trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co. in New York.
At the same time, increased speculation that a banking union
with the power to close failing banks will be created in the
euro zone before the end of 2014 lifted the euro.
European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels are
likely to take a step toward creating a banking union on
Tuesday, but leave nagging legal details to another time,
perhaps next week.
A banking union is widely viewed as crucial to shore up the
euro zone against future debt and financial crises.
"There's some expectation that a deal may be reached before
year-end, and that is supportive of the euro," said Sireen
Harajli, currency strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in New York.
The euro gained for a sixth straight day versus the
greenback and was within sight of this year's high of $1.3832.
It last traded down 0.2 percent 1.3764.
Against the yen, the euro pared early gains to
trade down 0.33 percent at 141.41.
The euro's rise caused the dollar index to extend
losses into a second straight day. It fell to six-week lows,
dragged down by lower U.S. Treasury yields, as
investors mostly downplay the prospect of a reduction in the
Fed's asset purchases this month.
The dollar index was down 0.21 percent at 79.965.
The 10-year Treasury note was 17/32 higher in
price to drive its yield down to 2.7952 percent.
European shares slipped, weighed down by major Swiss stocks
as a rally in the Swiss franc raised fresh concern about
the country's exports.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down
0.74 percent at 1,262.98.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29.38 points,
or 0.18 percent, at 15,996.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was down 3.38 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,804.99. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.51 points, or 0.09
percent, at 4,065.24.
U.S. crude rose as traders mulled news of progress toward
the opening of a major pipeline that will transport oil from the
U.S. Midwest to the Gulf, helping drain crude at the pricing
point for the futures contract.
The news presaged further drawdowns in overall U.S. crude
oil inventories for a second straight week.
The prospect of increased supply of Brent crude and less
landlocked U.S. crude helped narrow the spread between the two
contracts to a month-low of $10.48 earlier in the session.
The January contract for U.S. light crude futures
rose $1.17 to settle at $98.51.
Brent crude for January delivery settled 1 cent
lower at $109.38 a barrel. Brent dropped 2 percent on Monday,
its biggest loss in five weeks.