By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets worldwide slipped on Tuesday, weighed down by weak China trade figures, while oil came off its worst levels of the day after falling within reach of a seven-year nadir.
Oil prices earlier plumbed lows last seen during the financial crisis as an intensifying supply glut sparked fears the world will run out of storage for crude. U.S. crude hit $36.64 a barrel and Brent hit $39.81, their lowest levels since February 2009, before rebounding.
Brent crude (LCOc1) was last down 51 cents, at $40.23 a barrel, while U.S. crude (CLc1) was last down 6 cents at $37.59 per barrel.
U.S. stocks pared losses after falling more than 1 percent in morning trading, while European shares ended down nearly 1.5 percent. Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) fell 2.2 percent, while miner and energy producer Freeport McMoRan (FCX.N) was last down nearly 7 percent.
"The fall in oil prices suggests weak demand globally and has worried investors as they put together their outlook for the coming year," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The concerns over a crude glut hit currencies of major oil exporters, with the Canadian dollar and Norwegian crown hitting decade-plus lows against the U.S. dollar. The dollar retreated against the euro and yen, however.
The dollar index (.DXY), which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was last down 0.17 percent, at 98.488.
"It's a perfect storm for commodity currencies," said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in New York.
Data showed China's imports fell for the 13th consecutive month, with an 8.7 percent decline in November compared with a year earlier, intensifying concerns over the strength of the world's second-biggest economy.
MSCI's all-country world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was last down 0.8 percent, to 401.94.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) fell 115.21 points, or 0.65 percent, to 17,615.3, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 8.79 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,068.28 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 7.14 points, or 0.14 percent, to 5,108.95.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) lost 1.8 percent to 1,437.77.
U.S. Treasury debt yields were little changed in choppy trading. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes
Gold rose on the slight weakness in the dollar and decline in European shares, though expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise interest rates next week kept gains in check. Spot gold prices (XAU=) rose $4.22 or 0.39 percent, to $1,074.21 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Richard Leong in New York and Atul Prakash, Clara Denina, and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Alistair Bell)