* European shares mixed, off highs; Germany gets data boost
* Ukraine tension, China growth outlook weigh on sentiment
* U.S. futures flat to lower, Treasuries steady
* Euro/dollar dips, yen firms as Bank of Japan stands pat
* Bunds edge up, gold and oil extend gains
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, March 11 World stocks held steady, the
euro edged down and oil and gold nudged up on Tuesday as traders
kept a wary eye on tensions between Ukraine and Russia and the
pace of growth in China.
That pattern was set in Asia, where markets took a break
from recent volatile trading but struggled to do much more than
make incremental moves. U.S. stock index futures
and benchmark debt were also
flat ahead of the Wall Street open.
World shares and the euro zone's blue-chip
Euro STOXX 50 were both down 0.1 percent after
hovering near the previous day's close for most of the morning,
unable to match the marginal gains seen in Asia.
"Market players remain cautious. There's a lack of
enthusiasm in chasing stocks, and some are just thinking about
moving to the sidelines after the roller-coaster ride we've had
since the start of the year," said Guillaume Dumans, co-head of
research firm 2Bremans.
The standout gainer across European indexes was Portugal's
PSI 20, which rose 0.8 percent for a gain close to its
three-year intraday high, as debt yields in the country dropped
to their lowest since April 10 on optimism the country can exit
its international bailout programme later this year.
Strong trade data from Germany, the region's economic
powerhouse, helped the country's DAX index outperform.
But gains were pared by late morning and safe-haven German debt
edged off its lows on Ukraine concerns, with Bund futures
"Recent events, especially concerning Russia and Turkey,
have made the outlook less certain, and their impact will only
be felt in a few months from now," said Markus Huber, a senior
sales trader at Peregrine & Black.
Tensions over Ukraine continued to build on Tuesday. With
diplomacy at a standstill, Ukraine's acting president announced
the formation of a volunteer national guard, while ousted leader
Viktor Yanukovich insisted he remained the country's legitimate
Turkish assets have been hit by political scandals and a
power struggle between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and a
U.S.-based Muslim cleric.
The euro began the day on a lacklustre note and later
extended its dip to be down 0.2 percent against the dollar after
a leading central banker reminded the market that the European
Central Bank was in accommodative mode.
Elsewhere, a safe-haven bid for the yen kept it flat,
even after comments from Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda
that there was no need to adjust Japanese monetary policy for
"Dollar/yen has been in a range between 101-104 yen for much
of this year and the yen needs a fresh trigger for the next leg
of weakness," said Peter Kinsella, currency strategist at
Commerzbank. "That could come from a steady deterioration in
Japan's trade and current account deficits."
Against a basket of currencies, the U.S. dollar edged
higher by late morning to trade up 0.1 percent.
After recent major ructions in metals markets following
February's drop in Chinese exports, prices for industrial
commodities bounced off recent lows but trade remained cautious.
Dealers in Asia remained especially nervous about iron ore,
however, following an 8 percent slide on Monday
that fuelled unease about the health of China's giant steel
Both gold and crude oil extended early gains
as Ukraine strengthened the bid in both markets and kept them
near intraday highs.
Brent crude, Europe's regional benchmark, gained 49 cents to
$108.57 a barrel, while gains for U.S. oil were more
measured, ahead 28 cents. Both reversed a slight weakness during
the Asian day.
Gold, meanwhile, was at $1,349 an ounce. In a sign of
the recent jump in demand, the world's biggest bullion-backed
exchange-traded fund saw its largest inflow in a month on
"Gold continues to be largely supported above $1,329, and
while prices are unlikely to break above $1,361.60 in the
absence of war, underlying support from the Ukrainian crisis ...
is likely to keep prices elevated above $1,320 for an extended
time," said Joyce Liu, an analyst at Phillip Futures.