* Euro firm on safe-haven flow, expectation of inflation uptick
* Wall St pulled down by Nasdaq; Pfizer shares lead
* Oil slips below $110, near 7-week highs on Ukraine (Adds close of European bond, stock markets)
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - A slide in U.S. growth stocks led global equity markets to retreat on Monday from early gains on merger speculation driven by a bid for AstraZeneca, while crude oil prices fell on increased U.S. sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
Nasdaq stocks shed nearly 1 percent in afternoon trading as investors dumped technology shares regardless of whether their first-quarter results were seen as good or not.
Facebook Inc fell 3.82 percent to $55.50, the biggest drag on the Nasdaq composite index. Amazon.com Inc fell 4.1 percent to $291.5, while Google Inc fell 2.1 percent to $505.44.
“The rest of the market caught up with what’s going on in the Nasdaq,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “What’s causing it? I think it’s just momentum feeding on itself. Downward price action is feeding on itself and it’s bringing out more sellers.”
MSCI’s measure of global equity markets, the all-country world index, fell 0.3 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.26 percent at 1,336.30, before Wall Street began to drift lower.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 4.91 points, or 0.03 percent, at 16,356.55. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 6.19 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,857.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 38.23 points, or 0.94 percent, at 4,037.33.
Earlier, shares of Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc had surged after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc said it made a 58.8 billion pound ($98.9 billion) bid for it, after having two bids rejected.
AstraZeneca rallied 14.4 percent in London, while Pfizer rose 2.92 percent on Wall Street, the biggest gainer in the Dow Industrials and second-biggest by percentage in the benchmark S&P 500 index.
In Germany, shares of Bayer rose 4 percent, lifted by a wave of pharmaceuticals sector merger speculation.
Brent crude oil slipped below $110 a barrel. U.S. President Barack Obama announced a third round of sanctions against Russian individuals and companies aimed at stopping President Vladimir Putin from fomenting rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
June Brent eased $1.56 at $108.02 a barrel. U.S. crude for June delivery slips 3 cents to $100.57 a barrel.
The euro hit a two-week high against the U.S. dollar, helped by both safe-haven flows due to the Ukraine crisis and expectations euro zone inflation will show an increase this week, lessening the need for looser monetary policy.
“Since the onset of the Ukraine crisis the euro has benefited. We expect that pattern to continue,” said Michael Woolfolk, global markets strategist at BNY Mellon in New York.
The euro reached a session high $1.3905 before slipping to $1.3849, up 0.13 percent.
Euro support also came from a spike in overnight euro zone rates as surplus cash in the banking system decreased, with banks repaying cheaper loans taken earlier from the central bank.
The dollar rose 0.20 percent to 102.35 yen.
U.S. Treasury prices fell as investors embraced riskier assets after upbeat housing numbers that strengthened the view that the world’s largest economy was steadily recovering.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 4/32 in price to yield 2.6804 percent. (Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Sujata Rao in London; Editing by Dan Grebler)