Stocks, euro fall in April on Europe stress

Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:37pm EDT
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By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global shares edged lower Monday, posting their first monthly loss this year as Spain sank into recession and the U.S. economy showed signs of slowing.

Treasury prices rose, while the euro fell and the dollar slipped to a more than two-month low against the yen as anxiety over economies on both sides of the Atlantic led investors to favor lower-risk investments over stocks and other risky assets.

Spain, the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, slipped into recession in the first quarter as domestic demand fell, joining Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands on the list of countries with shrinking economies.

In the United States, consumers boosted spending only modestly last month and a gauge of Midwestern business activity fell sharply in April, suggesting the economy entered the second quarter with less steam.

"Growth is beginning to fade around the world," said Justin Hoogendoorn, fixed income strategist at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago.

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS slipped 0.2 percent to 328.66. For the month, the index was down 1.4 percent, though still up nearly 10 percent this year to date.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 posted its first monthly decline since November. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 14.68 points, or 0.11 percent, at 13,213.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX closed down 5.45 points, or 0.39 percent, at 1,397.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 22.84 points, or 0.74 percent, at 3,046.36.

Still, analysts said the picture was not overwhelmingly negative. Last week brought four days of back-to-back gains that helped the index erase steeper losses for the month. The S&P closed above 1,400 for the first time in three weeks on Friday, spurred by better-than-expected corporate earnings.   Continued...

Men walk past an electronic board displaying market indices from around the world outside a brokerage in Tokyo. REUTERS/Toru Hanai