Weak growth, debt concerns prompt lower stocks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets and the euro fell o n M onday as investors looked past recently announced central bank stimulus plans to focus on weak German economic data and the euro zone's unresolved debt crisis.

U.S. stocks followed the global trend on the weak German report. A China Beige Book survey detecting a downturn in business optimism added to investor caution on the prospects for global growth. The MSCI world equity index fell 0.4 percent to 336.27.

"We've had such a strong quarter that it's difficult for us to keep moving up, especially since we're so light on economic news to trade on," said Oliver Pursche, president at Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York. "We're maybe in a sideways market without a lot of action for a while."

The Dow Jones industrial average fell down 20.55 points, or 0.15 percent, to 13,558.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 3.26 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,456.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 19.18 points, or 0.60 percent, at 3,160.78.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was a big driver of the Nasdaq Composite's fall on news it sold out of its new iPhone 5 smartphone, with the company saying more than five million were sold in the three days since it hit stores. Apple shares fell 1.3 percent to $690.79 on analysts' concern that the company was unable to produce the phone quickly enough to meet demand.


The euro extended losses against the U.S. dollar after a disappointing survey on German business sentiment and uncertainty over Spain and Greece undermined the common currency. The euro was last down 0.4 percent at $1.2929 and has shed around 1.5 percent from a four-month peak reached on September 17.

"German business sentiment as measured by the IFO dropped further as investors remain reticent despite the European Central Bank's 'bazooka' plan," said Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at Daily FX in New York.

The German data showed a drop in business sentiment for a fifth successive month in September to its lowest level since early 2010, showing even the strongest of Europe's economies is succumbing to an economic downturn despite the European Central Bank's recently announced bond-buying plan. European shares lost 0.3 percent.


Other parts of the currency market reflected concerns surrounding global economic health. The growth-linked Australian dollar slid as a rally sparked by recent central bank stimulus moves ran out of steam, while the yen and the U.S. dollar, traditional safety zones, both firmed.

U.S. debt prices rose as weak euro zone data encouraged the buying of low-risk government bonds, with the health of the struggling global economy at the heart of investors' concerns.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 1.7163 percent from 1.755 percent in late U.S. trade on Friday.

Spanish debt worries remained the other dominant theme in debt markets.

Madrid is expected to present its 2013 draft budget plan this week and announce new structural reforms. The results of stress tests on the Spanish banking sector are also due.

These could set the stage for a full-scale bailout, although European Union officials have said they do not expect Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to seek an assistance program before a key regional election on October 21.

The slow progress likely in Madrid is driving investors gradually back into the safe-haven German debt market, keeping the yield on 10-year safe Bunds capped.

The main commodity markets also moved lower as the disappointing German data and a firmer dollar pressured prices.

Brent crude futures for November fell $1.57 a barrel to $109.85. U.S. crude fell 1 percent to $92.00.

(Reporting by Nick Olivari; Additional reporting by Ellen Freilich, Julie Haviv, Chuck Mikolajczak and Ryan Vlastelica in New York, Marc Jones, Francesco Canepa, Marius Zaharia and Anirban Nag in Europe and Nick Edwards in China; Editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler)

Updated Date: Sep 25, 2012 02:15 AM

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