Shares ease, euro gains as ECB seen poised to act

Reuters
Punctured euro banknotes used for training purposes are presented during news conference on German custom's annual statistics in Berlin
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Punctured euro banknotes which are used to train sniffer dogs, are presented to the media during a news conference on German custom's annual statistics, in Berlin March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

By Herbert Lash

LONDON, (Reuters) - Global equity markets eased on Tuesday but remained near record or multi-year highs, while euro zone inflation data gave the euro some respite on relief that price growth in the currency zone did not slow as much as some had expected.

The benchmark S&P 500 ended less than a point off Monday's record close, and the Dow fell a tad more. But emerging market stocks climbed, lifted by Brazilian and Mexican shares. Bond yields jumped to almost 2.6 percent.

MSCI's all-country world index of equity performance in 45 countries fell 0.01 percent, while the pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 (.FTEU3) index of regional shares lost 0.41 percent to a provisional close of 1,374.78.

"We can't seem to get a decent pullback here as there isn't any momentum to the downside. Every time the market goes down, it is met with buying," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) closed down 21.29 points or 0.13 percent, to 16,722.34. The S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 0.73 point, or 0.04 percent, to 1,924.24 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) fell 3.118 points, or 0.07 percent, to 4,234.081.

Both the S&P 500 and Dow industrials closed at record highs on Monday, while MSCI's gauge of global equities ended about 1.4 percent shy of all-time highs set in late 2007.

The euro rose 0.23 percent to 1.3625 against the dollar as traders believe its recent weakness fully prices in an aggressive European Central Bank interest rate cut on Thursday.

The rate of euro zone inflation fell in May to 0.5 percent from 0.7 percent in April, increasing the risk of deflation. Economists polled by Reuters had expected inflation to remain steady.

However, with most speculators already running big bets against the euro, traders said, even the weak figure was not enough to take the euro lower.

U.S. Treasuries yields rose to their highest in three weeks.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last down 17/32 in price to yield 2.5967 percent.

German bund yields spiked after euro zone inflation met revised expectations, prompting some who had expected an even weaker number to book profits after a recent rally.

German 10-year yields, the benchmark for euro zone borrowing, rose to 1.361 percent.

Brent crude futures fell and U.S. crude rose in choppy trade as U.S. and Chinese economic data provided support for prices recently under pressure from increasing global oil production.

Brent futures for July (LCOc1) settled down 1 cent at $108.82 a barrel. U.S. crude (CLc1) rebounded to settle up 19 cents at $102.66 a barrel.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Nigel Stephensen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Dan Grebler and Meredith Mazzilli)

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