Economic growth worries hit stocks; euro gains

Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:12pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stock markets eased on Monday after weak Japanese economic data added to the latest data showing a slowing global economy, while the euro rose as investors exited bearish bets against the common currency.

European shares posted their worst day in more than a week and U.S. stocks snuffed a six-day rally for the S&P 500 after Japan reported its gross domestic product expanded just 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

Japan's growth was half the expected rate, raising doubts about the global economy while highlighting the impact of Europe's debt crisis on world demand.

China's output of refined copper dropped 6.8 percent in July from the previous month's record high production, customs data showed on Monday. [ID:nL4E8J91HS] Chinese copper consumption is considered an economic bellwether.

Traders are looking for direction, with the S&P 500 hovering not far off its highest level in more than four years. Stocks' recent gains have been driven by hopes for further central bank easing amid signs of global economic weakness.

Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois, said she was still cautious over the potential for Europe's debt crisis to blindside the market. She said she would be closely monitoring data to see if improvement in the U.S. labor market would continue.

"I'm not sure we will get out of the summer without a pullback," Sampson said.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 37.59 points, or 0.28 percent, at 13,170.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 2.44 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,403.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 1.92 points, or 0.06 percent, at 3,018.94.   Continued...

A man looks at an electronic board displaying share prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao