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U.S. debt doubts keep lid on world shares, yen rises

Federal workers demonstrate for an end to the U.S. government shutdown on the west front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 13, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Richard Hubbard

LONDON (Reuters) - Slow progress in talks to avert a U.S. debt default kept world shares and oil under pressure on Monday, while the yen rose as some investors shifted into safer assets.

The cautious mood was reflected in the market's neutral reaction to news that factory output in the euro zone grew at its strongest pace in two years in August.

"It's not time to be adventurous right now," said Alastair Winter, chief economist at Daniel Stewart. "I don't think people should be in a rush to do anything."

Promising signals emerged from U.S. Senate negotiations to resolve the fiscal deadlock but there were no concrete moves towards passing legislation needed to fund the government and raise its borrowing authority.

With the government set to hit its funding limit in just four days and trading thinned by a U.S. public holiday, investors began to show signs of nerves.

The dollar fell 0.3 percent against the safer option of the yen, trading at around 98.29 yen.

"We think the closer we get to the debt ceiling deadline without an agreement, (the more) dollar/yen will come under intensive selling pressure," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at BTMU.

The greenback slipped 0.1 percent the Swiss franc to 0.9114 francs while the euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.3560.

Volumes were expected to be light through the day as U.S. bond trading will be closed for the Columbus Day holiday. Currency and stock markets are open as usual while the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to be in session.


Broader shares markets also reflected uncertainty about events in Washington.

U.S. stock index futures pointed to losses when Wall Street opens, largely signalling a retracement of gains made last week when a deal looked likely to emerge.

Investors are wary of ditching equities given the view that the ongoing U.S. deadlock would provide the Federal Reserve with reasons to delay cutting back its massive stimulus programme.

Europe's broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index was little changed by late morning, while stocks tracked by MSCI's world equity index were also unchanged, with Hong Kong and Japan having been closed for holidays.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which had hit a three-week high on Friday, eased 0.2 percent.


Adding a downbeat note, China said exports dropped 0.3 percent in September from a year earlier against expectations of a 6 percent rise, while annual inflation rate hit a 7-month high of 3.1 percent, limiting scope for rate cuts.

The decline in exports from the world's second largest economy has raised questions over the global recovery, which were highlighted by IMF last week when it trimmed its forecast to the lowest since the global recession in 2009.

Commodity markets mirrored uncertainty over the outlook with gold hovering near a three-month low at $1276.80 an ounce.

Brent crude edged below $111 a barrel while copper edged up 0.6 percent to $7,248 a tonne as strong imports of the metal from top consumer China boosted optimism about the outlook for demand, though gains were capped by events in Washington.

(Additional reporting by Anooja Debnath; Editing by John Stonestreet)