GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares retreat from highs; political fears hit euro

Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:30pm GMT

* U.S., European shares pull back after strong gains
    * Spanish and Italian political fears hit bonds
    * Euro falls ahead of ECB; Treasuries advance

    By Wanfeng Zhou
    NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Major stock markets fell on
Monday as investors booked profits on recent strong gains, while
the euro slipped from multi-month highs against the dollar and
yen on political uncertainty in Spain and Italy.
    Oil prices retreated from 4-1/2-month highs as investors
paused for breath after a rally powered by signs of an improving
global economic outlook and geopolitical tensions in the Middle
East.
    U.S. stocks slipped after a disappointing factory orders
report. The S&P 500 rose to a five-year high and the Dow to
14,000 for the first time since October 2007 last week after
jobs and manufacturing data showed the U.S. economy's recovery
remained on track.
    "We should get a pullback. Markets have been on a tear and
they have been on a tear for good, sound economic and
earnings-driven reasons," said Peter Kenny, managing director at
Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.
    Political uncertainty in Europe also weighed on shares and
the euro and drove peripheral bond yields sharply higher.
    In Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was facing calls to
resign over a corruption scandal in which he denies any
wrongdoing. 
    "The prospect of Rajoy's resignation has roiled the
markets," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX
strategy at BK Asset Management in New York. 
    "Any fresh political instability in (the) euro zone's most
important periphery economy could undermine the sense of
investor confidence and send Spanish yields higher, making it
much more difficult for the government to implement its
austerity measures."
    In Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of
the top candidates in this month's general election, is seeing a
resurgence in popularity, which threatens the reforms
implemented by the outgoing technocrat government.
 
    The Dow Jones industrial average was down 109.78
points, or 0.78 percent, at 13,900.01. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 12.01 points, or 0.79 percent, at
1,501.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 26.19
points, or 0.82 percent, at 3,152.91. 
    MSCI's world equity index fell 0.9 percent
to 354.59. The FTSEurofirst 300 lost 1.3 percent to
1,152.37, led by euro zone banks after weak results from
Commerzbank.
    
    Spanish 10-year government bond yields rose 20
basis points to 5.42 percent while Italian yields 
were 9 bps higher at 4.42 percent. 
    The euro traded at $1.3554, down 0.6 percent on the
day. It had risen to $1.3711 on Friday, a level unseen since
late 2011.
    But the euro's dip may prove temporary, strategists said,
and it could resume its move up if the European Central Bank,
which meets on Thursday, expresses no concern about the
currency's recent gains.
    Against the yen, the euro was down 1 percent at 125.46 yen
, off a 33-month high of 126.96 yen struck last week.
The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 92.58 yen.
    In commodities trading, Brent oil fell to a low of
$115.54 per barrel before recovering slightly to around $115.99,
down 77 cents. Brent had risen for three straight weeks. 
    U.S. crude dropped $1.12 to a low of $96.65 per
barrel after rising for eight consecutive weeks, the longest
such winning streak since July-August 2004.
    "The market is long due a correction," VTB Capital oil and
commodities markets strategist Andrey Kryuchenkov said. "The
market is firmly in an uptrend, but so over-bought."
    Spot gold was up slightly at $1,670.96 an ounce.
    U.S. Treasuries prices rose as bargain-minded investors
emerged and pushed benchmark yields back below 2 percent after
they climbed overnight to their highest levels in over nine
months. 
    The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 15/32, the
yield at 1.9691 percent.
    Overnight, Asian shares climbed to 18-month highs. China
added to the optimism about the global economy by reporting on
Sunday that its services sector had grown for a fourth straight
month in January, although the slim gain also signaled that the
global recovery underway is a modest one.
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