* Shares fall as investors book profits
* Dollar falls from four-year high vs yen, dips below 99 yen
* Wall Street opens lower on weak U.S. retail sales
* Drop in consumer sentiment also weighs on risky assets
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, April 12 World equity markets fell and
the dollar retreated from a four-year peak against the yen on
Friday after a dour reading of consumer sentiment and a drop in
retail sales in March pointed to a weak U.S. economy with muted
prospects for the future.
Wall Street extended losses after the Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan's survey showed sentiment tumbled
to a nine-month low in April, with Americans especially gloomy
about the long-term health of the U.S. economy.
An earlier report by the Commerce Department showed U.S.
retail sales contracted in March for the second time in three
months. The 0.4 percent drop exceeded analysts' expectations
that sales would be flat.
Prices for U.S. Treasuries rose after the data, with the
30-year bond gaining more than a point, and Brent crude oil sank
to a nine-month low below $102 a barrel.
"It is the latest in a growing list of economic numbers that
will likely keep the dollar pressured and the Fed in no hurry to
normalize policy," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at
Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, about retail sales.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 18.20
points, or 0.12 percent, at 14,846.94. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 5.16 points, or 0.32 percent, at 1,588.21.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 8.64 points, or 0.26
percent, at 3,291.52.
MSCI's all-country world equity index fell
0.6 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 of
leading regional shares was down 0.8 percent.
European shares snapped four straight days of gains amid
concerns about the Cypriot economy and the euro zone's debt
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose
14/32 in price to yield 1.7431 percent, while the 30-year U.S.
Treasury bond was up 1-4/32 in price to yield 2.9400
"A combination of soft activity and extremely benign
inflation data is a good signal for U.S. Treasuries, which are
poised to rally on these and similar data over the coming
months," said Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING
A report from the U.S. Labor Department showed wholesale
prices fell sharply in March due to lower gasoline costs. The
seasonally adjusted producer price index fell 0.6 percent, the
largest drop since May, after rising 0.7 percent in February.
The dollar fell 0.69 percent to 98.98 yen.
Brent crude fell $2.47 to $101.80 a barrel, while
U.S. crude oil futures shed $2.31 to $91.20.