* World shares flat after Fed move, Europe down 0.4 pct,
* U.S. budget talk uncertainty weighs
* Dollar recovers against most currencies
* Yen slips to near 9-month low
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Dec 13 World shares were largely flat
and commodities slipped on Thursday as investors looked past the
Federal Reserve's latest measures to stimulate the U.S. economy
to the country's approaching fiscal crisis.
Stock index futures signalled that Wall Street would take a
similar view when trading resumes, although data due on producer
prices, retail sales and claims for unemployment benefits could
have a big influence.
The Fed said on Wednesday it would begin buying $45 billion
of Treasuries a month from January, on top of the $40 billion a
month in mortgage-backed bonds it started purchasing in
September to keep the U.S. recovery on track.
Such a big stimulus would normally have been greeted by a
sharp rally in riskier asset markets, but many had already
priced in the policy decision and other were more worried about
the impact on growth of upcoming fiscal policy changes.
The MSCI world equity index, which had seen
seven straight days of gains, was unchanged at 337.80 points,
"What the Fed announced yesterday was more or less expected,
so I think we've had people selling the news," Ioan Smith,
strategist at Knight Capital, said.
The Fed did surprise many in the markets with its decision
to hold interest rates near zero until unemployment falls to at
least 6.5 percent and as long as inflation remained low.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke warned that monetary policy could
not offset the damage to growth from automatic spending cuts and
tax rises due if talks in Washington on narrowing the budget
deficit fail, adding to the cautious reaction to the
Analysts said investors were right to be cautious. "If the
talks fail and we get 3 or 4 percent of GDP of fiscal
tightening, that's going to be a massive, massive drag on
economic growth," said Alan Clarke, economist at Scotia Capital.
"Even if we get a compromise and it's just 1 percent of GDP
of fiscal tightening ... that would make it very hard for growth
to be anywhere near this sort of 2 percent that the consensus is
assuming over the coming year."
These concerns caused a marked drop in European share
markets, where the FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.4
percent to 1,135.46 points, ending a three-week-long rally that
has sent prices to 18-month highs.
London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and
Frankfurt's DAX were all 0.1 to 0.4 percent lower.
In the foreign exchange markets, the dollar initially
slipped to a one-week low of 79.71 against a basket of other
major currencies after the Fed decision, but recovered as
investors closed positions before the year-end.
"The Fed announcement has had a fairly limited impact on
most of the majors," said Adam Cole, global head of FX strategy
at RBC Capital Markets.
The dollar index settled to be unchanged at 79.86,
while against the euro the greenback was little changed at
Sentiment toward the euro was helped by a deal clinched
early on Thursday to give the European Central Bank new powers
to supervise euro zone banks, the first step in a new phase of
closer integration to help underpin the single currency.
The euro found some support after former Italian leader
Silvio Berlusconi, who had abruptly withdrawn support for Prime
Minister Mario Monti's government last week, offered to stand
back and suggested Monti could become the candidate of a
centre-right coalition in elections expected in February.
The Japanese yen came under renewed pressure as markets took
the view that the Fed's move made it more likely that the Bank
of Japan would further ease monetary policy next week to support
its weak economy.
The dollar rose to near its 2012 high of 84.187 yen to trade
around 83.47 yen.
Japan holds an election on Sunday, with opinion polls
showing conservative former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's
opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which favours more stimulus
measures, is heading for a resounding victory.
Oil prices retreated on widespread concerns about the growth
outlook, with U.S. crude futures down 34 cents at $86.44
a barrel and Brent falling 33 cents to $109.14.
"People are worried about the economy, the fiscal cliff in
the U.S., and the European economy still remains a tricky one,"
said Richard Langkemper, analyst at Argos North Sea Group in
Gold tumbled by just under 1 percent on stop-loss selling
after touching its highest in nearly two weeks on Wednesday to
trade around $1,693.80 an ounce.