Monday, 07 January 2013 21:39
NEW YORK: US stock prices fell on Monday on worries about disappointing company results while world oil prices dipped on profit-taking, but signs of improvement in the global economy capped the losses.
The dollar fell against the yen after rallying to a 2-1/2- year high last week, which some traders reckoned was overdone.
But it strengthened against the euro on speculation over whether the European Central Bank might signal future interest rate cuts when ECB officials meet on Thursday.
After a jolt of confidence from last week's budget deal in Washington, investors turned their focus to corporate profits in the last three months of 2012, when growth in American holiday spending and corporate investments were tepid.
"We have a cautious market entering fourth-quarter earnings season," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. "I think it's going to be a disappointing one this time around."
Uneasiness about weak corporate results emerged even as data on Friday showed US employers kept up a steady pace of hiring in December and the vast services sector had expanded.
The three major US stock indexes opened lower. The Dow Jones industrial average was last down 39.87 points, or 0.30 percent, at 13,395.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 4.78 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,461.69.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 4.93 points, or 0.16 percent, at 3,096.73.
After touching a 22-month peak last week, the FTSE Eurofirst index of top European shares was down 0.44 percent at 1,162.
MSCI's broad world equity index fell 0.28 percent but was still not far from an 18-month peak scaled when investors returned to the market after the immediate US fiscal crisis was averted by a political deal in Washington.
The pullback in equities also spurred selling in oil, gold and other risky assets.
Brent crude futures slipped 38 cents or 0.31 percent to $110.93 per barrel after rising 0.6 percent last week, while US oil futures dipped 8 cents or 0.1 percent to $93.01.
Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,646.44 an ounce, though above Friday's $1,625.79, its lowest price since August.
In the currency market, the euro was little changed against the dollar at $1.3076, erasing early losses. It held above a three-week low of $1.2998 hit on Friday.
Analysts predicted it would stay around those levels until after the ECB meeting. Some expect the ECB to point to the prospect of easier rates early this year, contrasting with signals from Federal Reserve policymakers that the US central bank it may pursue less-accommodative policies in the future.
The Bank of Japan is also expected to take major steps to stimulate that country's economy later this month as the new government aims to end deflation and recession.
The yen was weaker against the greenback, last down 0.4 percent at 87.83 yen.
Expectations of less-easy monetary policy from the Fed later this year underpinned weakness in US government debt.
The yield on benchmark Treasury 10-year notes ticked up to 1.915 percent, which was 6 basis points below the eight-month high set last Friday.
Center>Copyright Reuters, 2013