* U.S., European stocks decline, oil slides below $109
* U.S. private-sector employment, services data disappoint
* Investors await ECB, BOJ meetings, U.S. payrolls data
By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, April 3 Major stock markets and the
U.S. dollar fell on Wednesday after unexpectedly weak growth in
U.S. private-sector jobs and services dented optimism about the
world's largest economy, while investors awaited central bank
policy meetings in the euro zone and Japan.
Brent crude slipped below $109 a barrel as oil stockpiles
swelled in the United States, the top oil consumer, where a
struggling economy is limiting demand for fuel.
U.S. companies hired at the slowest pace in five months in
March as recent strong demand for construction jobs evaporated.
Separate data showed the pace of growth in the vast U.S.
services sector slowed last month.
The disappointing readings sparked some concern the recent
pick-up in U.S. economic growth is losing momentum and injected
caution among investors ahead of Friday's all-important
government data on employment for March.
"The softer-than-expected figure adds further support to our
long-held view that the U.S. economy would slow towards
mid-year, seeing sub-2 percent GDP growth in the second
quarter," said Andrew Grantham, economist at CIBC World Markets
"This is a negative for stocks and the U.S. dollar, but a
positive for fixed income."
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast U.S. nonfarm payrolls
growth of 200,000 in March, with the unemployment rate seen
holding steady at 7.7 percent.
The MSCI world stocks index slipped 0.5
percent to 358.39.
Wall Street stocks edged lower, though the S&P 500 index
remained close to its all-time intraday high.
"There are risks out there, but we've been creeping up
quietly for a long time with an impressive cumulative gain, and
that will continue so long as we don't have a crisis in the
offing," said David Kelly, chief market strategist for JPMorgan
Funds in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 58.71
points, or 0.40 percent, to 14,603.30. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index fell 9.52 points, or 0.61 percent, to 1,560.73. The
Nasdaq Composite Index shed 16.77 points, or 0.52
percent, to 3,238.09.
European shares lost 0.8 percent after surging 1.3
percent the previous day, with heavy falls in the telecoms and
OIL RETREATS AS SUPPLY BUILDS
The dollar index, which measures the greenback versus
a basket of currencies, dropped 0.3 percent to 82.695.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.2845, while the
dollar fell 0.6 percent to 92.91 yen.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are both
expected to make monetary policy announcements on Thursday.
Analysts said a recent run of weak euro zone data, political
turmoil in Italy, and concerns over Cyprus could lead ECB
President Mario Draghi to strike a dovish tone in his comments
after the meeting.
The BOJ is widely expected to ramp up its bond buying and
extend the maturities of the bonds it purchases, although some
traders have pared back bets against the yen given already hefty
Expectations of further easing drove Japan's Nikkei stocks
average up 3 percent for its biggest one-day rise in
almost two months.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 10/32, with
the yield at 1.8279 percent.
Brent shed $2.29 to trade at $108.40 a barrel, while
U.S crude slid $1.83 to $95.36.
"At the moment, the market is mostly focused on the
potential of the surplus of crude oil in the U.S. starting to
once again increase," said Dominick Chirichella of the Energy
Further pressure came from concern a prolonged oil pipeline
outage in the U.S. Midwest would cause inventories to build up
near the delivery point of the benchmark contract in Cushing,