* Euro falls as ECB pledges inflation fight
* European shares rally; global markets slip on jobless
* U.S. bond prices rise, Friday's labor report in focus
* Brent creeps up from 5-month low under $105
(Adds opening of U.S. markets, byline, dateline previously
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, April 3 Global equity markets traded
slightly lower on Thursday as a larger-than-expected rise in
U.S. jobless claims kept investors on edge a day ahead of the
government's monthly labor market report, while the dollar rose
against the euro after the European Central Bank pledged action
if needed to battle low inflation.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits increased 16,000 to
a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the week ended March 29, the
U.S. Labor Department said. Economists had forecast a rise to
317,000 new claims.
Separately, the Institute for Supply Management said its
services sector index rose to 53.1 in March, slightly below
expectations though comfortably ahead of February.
Stocks on Wall Street traded edged lower, but shares in
Europe were higher. A measure of global equities, MSCI's
all-country world stock index fell 0.2 percent.
"The information we've gotten so far today is a little bit
on the light side with respect to leading us towards
bullishness, but not enough to make us run screaming 'sell' down
the halls," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst,
Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.59 points or
0.11 percent, to 16,555.41, the S&P 500 lost 2.43 points
or 0.13 percent, to 1,888.47 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 16.545 points or 0.39 percent, to 4,259.91.
European shares rallied, with a number of national indexes
hitting multi-year highs, after the ECB president, Mario Draghi,
opened the door for unconventional measures to thwart the risk
of deflation in the euro zone.
The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of leading European
shares was up 0.13 percent at 1,345.11 points.
Euro zone banks were among the biggest gainers, with Natixis
up 4.1 percent, UniCredit up 2.8 percent and
Banco Espirito Santo up 2.7 percent
The euro dropped after the ECB said it was ready to deploy
anything in its monetary policy toolbox if inflation stays too
low for too long even as it kept interest rates steady.
The currency, shared by 18 nations, dipped as low as $1.3699
before paring some losses to trade 0.37 percent lower at
Euro zone annual inflation ticked down to 0.5 percent in
March, its lowest level since the region's economy was deep in
recession in 2009 and its sixth month in what Draghi has
described as "the danger zone" below 1 percent.
"The ECB is being slightly more dovish than the market
expected," said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset
Management in New York. "The main takeaway is that the council
is considering unusual techniques, and that's negative for
Longer-dated U.S. Treasuries yields edged lower on the
jobless claims report, causing some jitters ahead of the monthly
nonfarm payrolls report due Friday.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose
4/32 in price to yield 2.7862 percent.
Brent crude rose slightly to nearly $105 a barrel but
remained near five-month lows as expectations of a deal to
reopen vital Libyan oil ports were balanced by doubts that a
lasting resolution was imminent.
Brent crude rose 37 cents to $105.16 a barrel. U.S.
crude, or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), fell 5 cents to
$99.57 a barrel.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Jamie
McGeever in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)