* Global stock index edges down with U.S. equities
* Ukraine crisis, China slowdown and copper rout sap risk
* Russian shares slide to lowest since September 2009
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, March 13 World stock indexes slipped
on Thursday, hit by rising concerns from tensions surrounding
Russia's standoff over Ukraine and worries about the pace of
Chinese growth, while the euro hit a new 2-1/2-year high against
Copper added to its recent losses on the dimmer outlook for
China, which accounts for 40 percent of global refined copper
demand. The metal hit a four-year low at $6,376.25 per tonne on
Growth in China's industrial output came in below forecasts
for the combined January/February period, with retail sales also
weaker than expected, stoking worries growth there could slow as
Beijing pushes for economic reforms.
Investors were also increasingly worried over the trajectory
of the crisis in Ukraine. Russia said it had started military
exercises near the border with Ukraine, in what is likely to be
seen as a show of force in the standoff with the West over the
Meanwhile, the German foreign minister said all attempts to
de-escalate the situation in Crimea have been rejected by
Media in Warsaw reported U.S. F-16 fighter jets landed at
central Poland's Lask air base to take part in military
exercises, which was seen as Washington's gesture of support for
its eastern NATO allies after Russia's intervention in Ukraine.
"These hot spots are still of concern to people, the Ukraine
and China being wobbly," said Stephen Massocca, managing
director, at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell
150.29 points or 0.92 percent, to 16,189.79, the S&P 500
lost 15.18 points or 0.81 percent, to 1,853.02 and the Nasdaq
Composite dropped 47.801 points or 1.11 percent, to
Better-than-expected data on retail sales and the labor
market helped to limit losses. U.S. retail sales rebounded in
February and new applications for unemployment benefits hit a
fresh three-month low last week.
The MSCI global stock market index was down
0.3 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300
was down 0.7 percent.
Russia's RTS stock index, down 2 percent, fell to
its lowest since September 2009, while five-year credit default
swaps rose 14 basis points to their highest since June 2012.
The euro climbed in the wake of the European Central Bank's
avoidance of further stimulus, signalling some confidence the
region has put recession and its debt crisis behind.
The euro reached $1.3967, just under psychological
resistance at $1.40. It was last up 0.2 percent at $1.3935
The euro zone economy seems to be picking up steam and
investors are betting the ECB will not ease policy further to
counter deflation risks, even though ECB policymaker Benoit
Coeure reiterated the bank's readiness to act if real interest
rates did not fall.
"The policy messages and data support the euro and we think
that will allow it to continue to push higher from here," Ian
Stannard, a strategist at Morgan Stanley in London, said.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) traded
at $6,461 a tonne in official rings, down 0.7 percent from a
close of $6,505 on Wednesday. Prices hit a 44-month low of
$6,376.25 in intraday trade on Wednesday before recovering at
the close to post their first daily gain since Friday.
Chinese funds taking massive short positions played a
powerful role in copper's slide this week, signalling the
growing force of the sector in global commodities markets.
After a tumble in copper of around 7.5 percent so far this
month, investors are worried about a possible unravelling of
Chinese loan deals using the metal - whose many industrial uses
make it sensitive to global economic health - as collateral.
"The China economy is slowing quite sharply, in our view ...
(although) the lack of inflation and slowing growth does open
the door for policy easing," Gerard Lane, equity strategist at
Shore Capital, said in a note.
Geopolitical tensions supported the U.S. bond market. The
benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note last traded
with a yield of 2.669 percent, down from late Wednesday when the
yield was at 2.726 percent. Bond yields move inversely to their
GOLD OFF HIGHS, OIL MIXED
Gold prices retreated from six-month highs after the
stronger-than-expected U.S. data.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,367.24 an ounce
versus $1,366.58 late on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures for
April delivery were down $2.50 an ounce at $1,368.
Earlier, gold had risen to its highest since Sept. 10, due
to fears the Ukraine situation could escalate, worries over the
Chinese economy and a drop in the dollar against the euro.
In the energy market, European benchmark Brent crude oil
was down 26 cents at $107.76 a barrel, while U.S. crude
futures were up 15 cents at $98.14.