October 23, 2018 / 3:20 PM / 25 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks tumble globally as investors flee for safety

* U.S. stocks follow Europe and Asia lower

* Oil tumbles after Saudi comments

* Saudis under pressure as Turkey comments on Khashoggi death

* Demand rises for gold and treasuries in safety bid

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2018 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Updates after U.S. market open, adds commentary, changes dateline; previous LONDON)

By Sinéad Carew

NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks followed Europe and Asia lower on Tuesday as investors fled for safety as they worried about U.S. earnings, Italy’s finances and U.S. trade tensions while pressure mounted on Saudi Arabia over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury prices rose, sending yields to their lowest levels in almost three weeks as tumbling equity markets worldwide fed investor demand for low-risk debt.

The dollar index fell slightly, and oil prices fell after Saudi Arabia said it could supply more crude quickly if needed, reassuring investors ahead of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s crude exports that start next month.

Shares of U.S. industrial heavyweights 3M Co and Caterpillar Inc tumbled after 3M posted its biggest sales miss in 2 years and cut its forecast while Caterpillar disclosed weak order backlog and an increase in manufacturing costs.

“People are getting hysterical, taking these little dots and drawing universal trend lines,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago, citing worries about a potential global slowdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 368.06 points, or 1.45 percent, to 24,949.35, the S&P 500 lost 45.22 points, or 1.64 percent, to 2,710.66 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 153.49 points, or 2.06 percent, to 7,315.14.

“The stock market has everyone’s attention. The dollar/yen is moving almost tick-to-tick with stocks,” said David Gilmore, partner at FX Analytics in Essex, Connecticut.

“Markets are starting to wonder if the good times generated from Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation are in the rear view mirror and what’s ahead is fallout from protectionist policies, and that has started to eat into corporate earnings,” he added.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 1.6 percent after hitting its lowest point since December 2016.

China’s main stock indexes resumed a downward spiral a day after the blue-chip index posted its biggest gain in nearly three years, hit by investor pessimism about economic prospects and risks posed by shares pledged for loans.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 2.05 percent and hit its lowest point since Sept 2017.

Investors were anxious about the economic ramifications of Saudi Arabia’s isolation after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said intelligence and security institutions have evidence Khashoggi’s death at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul this month was planned. He dismissed attempts by Riyadh to blame the “savage” killing on rogue operatives.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he was not satisfied with what he heard from Saudi Arabia about the death but did not want to lose investment from Riyadh.

“A quick Google search reveals hundreds of U.S. companies that could be impacted if this thing spins completely out of control,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York in a research note that pointed to defense companies being particularly vulnerable.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 20/32 in price to yield 3.1185 percent, from 3.194 percent late on Monday, while the 30-year bond last rose 37/32 in price to yield 3.3175 percent, from 3.381 percent.

Spot gold added 0.9 percent to $1,233.06 an ounce after hitting its highest level since mid-July as investors looked for safety.

The dollar index was flat, with the euro down 0.1 percent to $1.1452.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.67 percent versus the greenback at 112.09 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2978, up 0.13 percent on the day.

Of the S&P 500’s 11 major sectors, energy was the biggest decliner as oil futures tumbled.

U.S. crude fell 2.64 percent to $67.53 per barrel and Brent was last at $77.91, down 2.41 percent on the day.

Emerging market stocks lost 2.56 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 2.46 percent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 2.67 percent.

Additional reporting by Kate Duguid, Karen Brettell in New York, Marc Jones in London; editing by Richard Balmforth and Dan Grebler

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