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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Securities around the world fell on Wednesday after the World Bank cut its economic growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016, with stocks down across regions and copper suffering its biggest one-day drop in more than three years.
The outlook fueled fears that the benefits of cheaper oil may be offset by anemic economies and the threat of deflation, sending investors to seek safety in government debt, while the U.S. dollar slumped against the yen.
The S&P 500 fell for a fourth straight day, while the CBOE Volatility index extended its year-to-date advance to 13.6 percent.
Adding to the cautious tone in the United States, JPMorgan Chase & Co reported earnings that missed expectations, sending its shares down 3.5 percent to $56.81. The financial giant, a Dow component, was one of the first bellwethers to report quarterly results, casting a pall on the nascent earnings season.
Separately, government data on December U.S. retail sales came in much weaker than expected, with sales down 0.9 percent.
"Lower growth was on everyone's mind, but to see the World Bank come out like this really put people on edge, as did the retail sales, which I found more surprising than anything," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York. "I would've expected a slight improvement, if anything, given the drop in gas prices."
The day's losses were widespread but especially dramatic for copper, a key industrial metal, which fell 6 percent to the lowest level in more than half a decade as the World Bank outlook triggered fears about global growth. It was the biggest one-day drop since 2011, and its sixth straight daily decline. Silver was off 1.2 percent. Gold dipped 0.1 percent.
In the equity space, the MSCI International ACWI Price Index fell 0.7 percent while shares in Japan lost 1.7 percent.
European shares fell 1.6 percent but ended off their lows after a top adviser to the European Union's highest court told judges that a bond-buying plan by the European Central Bank aimed at boosting the struggling euro-zone economy did not break EU law, providing crucial backing to the ECB.
The comments pushed the euro below its 1999 launch rate against the dollar for the first time in more than nine years.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 186.85 points, or 1.06 percent, to 17,426.83, the S&P 500 lost 11.74 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,011.29 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 22.18 points, or 0.48 percent, to 4,639.32.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note traded up 12/32 in price to yield 1.8484 percent, after the yield earlier hit its lowest level since May 2013.
The U.S. dollar index fell 0.25 percent against a basket of currencies. The yen rose 0.6 percent against the greenback.
Oil dramatically broke with its recent downtrend, with U.S. crude futures surging 5.7 percent - the strongest daily gain in more than two years on short covering ahead of options expiration. Brent crude rose 4.5 percent.
Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Leslie Adler