GLOBAL MARKETS-Where did all the bulls go? Rallies stall as EU summit begins

NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters) - Global equity benchmarks treaded water on Friday and government bond yields edged lower as investors waited on the European Union to iron out the details of an expected 750 billion euro recovery fund that could provide another round of stimulus as the world economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

European, U.S. and world equity markets were heading for their third weekly gain in a row, though the pace of the rally has slowed. The U.S. Congress is set to begin debating a new aid package next week, as several states in the country’s South and West implement fresh lockdown measures to curb the virus.

While retail sales for June released on Thursday beat market expectations, real-time measures of retail foot traffic and employee working hours and shifts have flatlined after steady growth since April.

“We now see higher risk of a market correction, considering the improvement in hard economic data we have seen over the past couple of months is likely to halt,” said Tomo Kinoshita, global market strategist at Invesco in Tokyo.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.24% following modest gains in Europe and slight declines in Asia.

In morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.37 points, or 0.05%, to 26,749.08, the S&P 500 gained 6.41 points, or 0.20%, to 3,221.98 and the Nasdaq Composite added 25.87 points, or 0.25%, to 10,499.70

The S&P 500 has exceeded the Nasdaq by nearly 3 percentage points over the past week, its greatest five-day outperformance since late March, possibly as investors take profits from the likes of Amazon and other technology giants that have led Wall Street gains in recent months.

European leaders will continue to meet through Saturday, trying to overcome opposition from the Netherlands and Hungary to issue join euro debt that could provide another boost of stimulus.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, one of the main resisters to the recovery fund including mass grants, said that he was “not optimistic” an agreement would be reached on Friday as he arrived for the meeting.

The Netherlands wants countries receiving EU support from the fund to agree to reforms in their labor markets and pension systems, and is leading a group of several smaller EU nations calling for stricter conditions..

“Presumably, as is the way of Europe, they will agree to come back from more talks followed by a compromise and a watered-down deal,” Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes said of the EU discussions. “The positive, though, is that we are getting a recovery fund.”

Perceived safe-haven assets were little changed. The dollar index fell 0.2%, with the euro up 0.37% to $1.1425. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 0.6135%, from 0.612% late on Thursday.

The United States reported at least 75,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a daily record. Spain and Australia reported their steepest daily jumps in more than two months, while cases continued to soar in India and Brazil.

U.S. crude recently rose 0.07% to $40.78 per barrel and Brent was at $43.41, up 0.09% on the day.

Reporting by David Randall; editing by Jonathan Oatis