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World shares fall as markets await Fed meeting, taper timeline

·3 min read

By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World shares fell on Friday after a week of mixed economic data and fears over the stability of growth and Asian markets put the focus on the U.S. Federal Reserve's timeline for tapering asset purchases.

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower in a broad sell-off on Friday. All three major U.S. stock indexes lost ground, with the Nasdaq Composite Index weighed down as rising U.S. Treasury yields pressured market-leading growth stocks.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield briefly touched 1.3855%, its highest level since July 14, while the dollar hit a three-week high.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.71%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.9% for a third-straight week of losses. So far this month, the STOXX is down about 2%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.29%.

Investors hope the Fed's meeting next week will yield more clarity on its plan to slow down asset purchases, and when it might raise interest rates.

Shares in embattled property developer China Evergrande, which has two trillion yuan ($310 billion) in liabilities and faces an $80 million bond coupon payment next week, dropped 30% this week.

Concerns grew that a potential U.S. corporate tax hike could erode earnings as leading Democrats and President Joe Biden sought to raise the top tax rate on corporations to 26.5% from the current 21%.

"Fear seems to be creeping back into the market, and that can be a healthy dynamic, said Callie Cox, Ally Invest senior investment strategist. "We wouldn't be surprised to see a pullback here."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 166.44 points, or 0.48%, to 34,584.88; the S&P 500 lost 40.76 points, or 0.91%, at 4,432.99; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 137.96 points, or 0.91%, to 15,043.97.

The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 3.9 basis points to 1.3702%.

The yield on Germany's 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the euro zone, was at -0.280% after rising as much as 3.5 basis points to a two-month high of -0.277%, after a Financial Times report suggested the European Central Bank expects to hit its 2% inflation target by 2025.

Stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales data on Thursday boosted the dollar, which held steady near the previous day's three-week high against an index of currencies.

The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback's value against six major currencies, rose 0.387%, its highest since late August.

The euro down 0.32% to $1.1726.

Spot gold dropped 0.1% to $1,752.48 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.26% to $1,749.40 an ounce.[GOL/]

U.S. crude recently fell 64 cents to $71.97 per barrel, and Brent settled at $75.34 a barrel, down 33 cents on the day.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang)