* U.S. budget deal boosts Fed taper expectations
* World equity index down 0.88 percent
* Euro climbs to 6-week high against dollar; yen gains
By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, Dec 11 Stock markets worldwide slipped
on Wednesday after a budget deal in Washington removed some of
the fiscal uncertainty hanging over the U.S. economy, boosting
expectations the Federal Reserve may soon start reducing its
The euro rose against the dollar for a seventh straight
session, helped by higher money market rates and diminishing
expectations of imminent easing by the European Central Bank.
In September, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cited tight fiscal
policy as one concern when the U.S. central bank surprised
market participants by keeping the stimulus intact. A budget
showdown in Congress ultimately led to a partial government
shutdown in October.
The to-and-fro over when the Fed will begin to halt the flow
of cheap dollars has dominated trading worldwide for months. A
recent run of strong U.S. data and talk from policymakers have
bolstered expectations the process will start soon.
"Right now, the market is sort of taking all this in. All
eyes are on any tapering in December and while the deal removes
some political uncertainties, it makes tapering more possible,"
said Karyn Cavanaugh, market strategist with ING U.S. Investment
Management in New York.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks
shares in 45 countries, was down 0.88 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 129.60
points, or 0.81 percent, to 15,843.53. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index dropped 20.40 points, or 1.13 percent, to 1,782.22.
The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 56.68 points, or 1.40
percent, to 4,003.81.
The Fed will hold its last policy meeting of the year next
week, on Dec. 17-18.
"It certainly does appear that a window of opportunity could
be opening up for the Fed to act next week without a sharp
market reaction, said CMC Markets strategist Michael Hewson.
"The only question remaining is as to whether they will avail
themselves of it."
Most Asian share markets lurched lower overnight as
investors booked profits on a range of once-crowded positions.
European stocks ended down 0.53 percent.
Euro zone countries edged closer to agreeing on a
long-awaited plan to close ailing banks and at least partly
share the costs involved. The plan would pave the way for a
fundamental reform to underpin the euro and the region's
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.3783, having hit a
six-week high of $1.3810. The dollar lost 0.4 percent against
the yen, trading at 102.44 yen. The dollar index,
which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six major
currencies, eased 0.12 percent.
With the euro zone making progress and the European Central
Bank looking increasingly inclined to sit on its hands, the euro
could well top the $1.3832 high of the year, said Societe
Generale FX strategist Alvin Tan.
"I'm afraid this euro squeeze is going to continue," Tan
said. "The liquidity conditions are definitely tightening.
U.S. Treasuries prices slipped as investors pared bond
holdings before a $21 billion auction of 10-year notes, the
second leg of a three-part $64 billion sale of government debt
The benchmark 10-year note fell 14/32 in price
to yield 2.848 percent.
According to a Reuters poll on Monday, the Fed will begin
trimming its monthly asset purchases in March. But some
economists are warming up to the idea that it will do so as
early as this month or at the January policy meeting.
Despite the expected tapering, an actual interest rate hike
remains a distant prospect. Eurodollar and Fed fund
futures have not fully priced in a first rate rise until
the end of 2015.
Brent crude oil rose 32 cents to settle at $109.70 a
barrel. U.S. crude futures for January delivery settled
down $1.07 at $97.44.
U.S. crude oil stocks slumped 10.6 million barrels last
week, the biggest draw of the year as refiners churned out
distillates in record amounts and gasoline stockpiled, data from
the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
Gold fell from a three-week high to $1,252 an ounce.
Among emerging markets in the spotlight, a rise in tensions
in Ukraine pushed the cost of insuring the country's debt toward
a four-year high.
Scores of riot police moved against demonstrators during the
night, triggering fears among opposition leaders that they would
crush a protest over the government's decision to spurn an EU
trade deal and move Ukraine further into Russia's orbit.