November 27, 2012 / 3:07 AM / 6 years ago

U.S. stocks, euro lower; risk tolerance declines

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, reversing a positive trend for stocks elsewhere in the world, and the euro slipped as worry over the threat to the world economy posed by the U.S. “fiscal cliff” offset optimism from a deal to ease Greece’s debt burden.

A general view of the German stock exchange in Frankfurt November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Shares globally had climbed earlier and safe-haven German bonds fell after global lenders reached a new deal to reduce Greece’s debt and release loans needed to keep the country afloat.

But as Democrats and Republicans prepared to resume budget negotiations in Washington, investors in U.S. stocks took a second look at risk.

U.S. data failed to allay concerns. A gauge of planned U.S. business spending increased by the most in five months in October, but a fourth straight month of declines in shipments underscored the damage inflicted by fears of tighter fiscal policy next year.

“For those of us that are worried about the economy in 2013, given the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff, this is a little bit helpful,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, New York. “But that doesn’t remove the overarching worry about the ‘cliff’ or that tax policy and spending policy will not be right, given the weak economy.”

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 40.59 points, or 0.31 percent, at 12,926.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was down 3.60 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,402.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 6.21 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,970.58.

The MSCI index of global stocks .MIWD00000PUS was last down 0.2 percent. European shares on the FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 were up 0.2 percent and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.6 percent to a near three-week high.

Greece remained dominant in the headlines. After 12 hours of talks, international lenders decided on steps to cut Greek debt to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 and promised further measures to lower it below 110 percent in 2022.

Following months of jockeying, the deal was broadly expected by markets and clears the way for Greece’s euro zone neighbors and the International Monetary Fund to disburse almost 35 billion euros of aid next month.

But with doubts about Greece’s ability to hit its growth and debt-reduction targets, few analysts expect the latest agreement to be the final chapter in the euro zone’s three-year crisis.

The euro touched $1.3009 earlier in the global day, its highest level since October 31, but lost momentum as caution set back in and was last down 0.4 percent at $1.2923.

“Now that Greece is out of the picture for the moment, the U.S. fiscal slope is front and center,” said Christopher Vecchio, Currency Analyst at DailyFX in New York.

Michael Hintze, founder and CEO of hedge fund CQS, told a Reuters summit he expected the euro zone to continue muddling through its troubles. But added that “the chances of misstepping on the way through are pretty high.”


Safe-haven German government bonds fell following the Greek deal, with benchmark Bunds yields at 1.427 percent. Ten-year Greek yields were last at 15.833 percent.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 5/32, the yield at 1.6489 percent.

“Too much (of the deal) has been anticipated, It’s not a real game-changer. We expect some upside pressure on Bund yields but not a sustained sell-off,” said Michael Leister, a senior rate strategist at Commerzbank in London.

“(The Greek deal) is not the green light for a sustained rally for risk assets across the board. As we’ve seen before, once the market starts scrutinizing some of the details, some doubts may well arise,” he added.

Uneasiness about U.S. and Greek finances were offset by the encouraging data on the U.S. economy.

U.S. consumer confidence rose to a four-and-a-half-year high in November as consumers became more optimistic about the economic outlook, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Greek agreement helped copper to a three-week high before it gave up gains, while Brent crude retreated to under $110 a barrel as Greek optimism was countered by worries over the looming U.S. fiscal situation. U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.6 percent to $87.26.

After an initial post-Greek deal jump, gold <GOL/> fell to $1,743.71 an ounce, down 0.3 percent.

Reporting by Nick Olivari Additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Marc Jones and Emelia Sithole-Matarise in London; Editing by James Dalgleish and Dan Grebler

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