Global stocks drop after new signs of slower growth; yen, oil rebound

Mon Dec 1, 2014 7:01pm EST
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stock markets fell on Monday as slowing factory activity in China and Europe added to worries about weaker global growth and Apple shares dropped, while the yen hit a seven-year low against the dollar before recovering.

Oil prices rebounded sharply after hitting five-year lows, lifted by data suggesting that tumbling prices may have started affecting drilling activity in the fast-growing U.S. shale oil industry. Gold posted its biggest daily gain in more than a year.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 suffered its biggest one-day drop in more than a month. Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the most actively traded on Nasdaq. Apple ended down 3.2 percent after dropping as much as 6 percent. The cause of the decline was not clear, though traders pointed to high-speed algorithmic trading programs as a potential culprit.

Shares of U.S. retailers fell, after Thanksgiving weekend in-store sales failed to impress. The S&P 500 retail index .SPXRT lost 1.5 percent.

The day's data added to investor caution. Chinese purchasing managers data showed manufacturing slowed in November, suggesting the world's second biggest economy was continuing to lose momentum. Factory activity also slowed in France and Germany.

In the United States, growth in the manufacturing sector slowed for a third straight month in November.

"We're watching growth struggle, especially outside the United States," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. "Investors may be overly complacent."

The U.S. dollar rose to its highest level against the yen since July 2007, hitting 119.15 yen JPY=EBS on the EBS trading platform, immediately after Moody's lowered its rating on Japan, the world's third biggest economy, by a notch to A1 from AA3, citing fiscal problems. The dollar ran into profit-taking and was last down 0.3 percent at 118.29 yen.   Continued...

A customer uses the nozzle of a petrol pump at a gas station near Prague August 23, 2012.  REUTERS/David W Cerny