* Fed's officials raise concern over stimulus pullback
* Bank of England ties rates to jobs
* European shares trim losses on strong German data
* Yen touches 6-week high against dollar
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Aug 7 Signs the U.S. Federal Reserve
might soon begin trimming its stimulus programme sparked falls
in world shares on Wednesday, while a new Bank of England policy
lifted sterling by changing expectations for a rate rise.
U.S. stock index futures pointed to Wall Street extending
the share selloff, which was triggered when two Fed officials
suggested the central bank may reduce the pace of bond purchases
as early as next month, depending on economic data.
"We're going to get tapering, its really a question of when,
and not if, and that's why we've seen a decline in (equity)
markets," said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.
The comments led to MSCI's main Asian ex-Japan index
hitting its lowest levels since mid-July and sent
the broader MSCI world equity index down 0.5
percent to put it on course for its worst day in five weeks.
Europe's broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index had also
shed 0.1 percent though it was off its lows after data showed
German industry output had rebounded in June - further evidence
that Europe's largest economy is gaining momentum.
In Britain, central bank governor Mark Carney, in his first
policy move since taking over last month, outlined a new
framework for setting interest rates, triggering a wave of
volatility in London's financial markets.
Carney said UK rates would be kept at a record low of 0.5
percent until unemployment falls to 7 percent, something
unlikely for another three years. He also made any move
conditional on inflation staying low and the financial system
being stable at the time.
Traders reacted to the policy by bringing forward slightly
expectations of when the first UK interest rate rise may occur,
given the raft of strong economic data in the past few weeks.
Sterling, which initially lost ground on the low rates'
promise, hit a peak of $1.5493, its highest since June
21 before settling at $1.5446, up 0.7 percent.
"A line in the sand has been drawn for a possible 2016
horizon (for a rate rise). Previously the market had not known
this and it could have been even longer maybe, so traders have
now got to factor this in now," said Central Markets chief
strategist Richard Perry.
Britain's main FTSE 100 index however moved in the
opposite direction, extending its losses to fall 0.8 percent
after Carney spoke.
British government bond futures also reversed initial losses
to be little changed.
The speculation over an early cutback in the Fed's bond
buying plans was supporting the dollar against most emerging
market currencies and a basket of major developed world
currencies with the notable exception of the yen.
In Tokyo, capital inflows linked to interest payments on the
country's massive U.S. Treasury holdings and the ongoing retreat
by Japanese investors from slowing Asian economies, combined
with the growing risk aversion to lift the yen sharply.
The dollar touched a one-and-a-half month low against the
yen 96.76 yen, before settling at 97.10 yen, down 0.7
The stronger yen added to the negative tone in Tokyo share
markets to send the Nikkei index tumbling 4 percent for its
biggest one-day percentage loss since mid-June.
In commodity markets, gold was at three-week low as any
tapering would support a higher interest rate environment that
diminishes the precious metal's attractiveness.
"It does very much look as though the Fed is keen to go
ahead with its tapering, perhaps starting as soon as September
and that has added a little negative sentiment to the gold
market and for that we think there is more downside risk in the
near term," Natixis analyst Nic Brown said.
Copper slipped 1.2 percent to $6,914 a tonne, giving
back most of the gains made on Tuesday while Brent crude fell
below $108 per barrel, dropping for a fourth session and
logging its longest losing streak since April.