Global stocks slip, euro wavers on ECB comment

Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:34pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global shares and the euro closed almost flat on Monday after the European Central Bank sought to squash speculation about a form of market intervention to contain the euro zone debt crisis, damping recent investor enthusiasm for risk.

Oil and Treasury prices also hugged their break-even point as the U.S. stock market closed virtually unchanged and posted one of its lightest trading volumes of the year.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) powered to an all-time high. The rise in its market capitalization to more than $623 billion made it the most valuable public company of all time. Shares closed at a new peak of $665.15, up 2.63 percent on the day.

German magazine Der Spiegel said over the weekend that the ECB was considering buying debt issued by member countries if their interest rates became too elevated, but a bank spokesman said it was misleading to report on yet-to-be decided matters.

Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, also on Monday reiterated its opposition to bond purchases, and a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry said it was not aware of any plans for the ECB to target bond spreads.

A recent rally in global equities last week pushed the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares to a 13-month peak and lifted the S&P 500 to nearly four-year highs on hopes the ECB would finally cap the two-year-old debt crisis.

On Monday, Facebook Inc (FB.O: Quote) plumbed a new low of $18.75, less than half its IPO value of $38 a share, before rebounding to close up 5.0 percent at $20.011.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 3.56 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,271.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 0.03 points, or 0.00 percent, at 1,418.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC slid 0.38 points, or 0.01 percent, at 3,076.21.   Continued...

A man is silhouetted in an electronic board showing the FTSE MIB Index for the Italian equity market in this photo illustration taken in Rome August 9, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile