By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets eased on Thursday on simmering worries over Greece’s new anti-bailout government and the prospect for corporate earnings, but U.S. government debt prices fell on fresh signs of a strong American labor market.
Weak results hit European shares, with Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> weighing on the market after it missed earnings expectations. The oil major, which fell 4.7 percent, said it would cut spending by $ 15 billion over three years due to slumping crude prices.
On Wall Street, Alibaba Group shares <BABA.N> dropped 10.5 percent to $ 88.12 after its revenue missed expectations.
German bond yields fell as worries over Greece’s new anti-bailout government buoyed demand for top-rated assets, but the yield on U.S. Treasuries rose after surprisingly strong weekly data on American jobless claims bolstered optimism.
“You have two things going on in equity markets, and both are negative right now. Greece is to some degree being underestimated as a potential problem,” said Dan Morris, global investment strategist at asset manager TIAA-CREF.
“At the same time, generally speaking, you haven’t had great earnings numbers out of the U.S. Guidance is going down, earnings estimates are coming down,” Morris said.
Morris said calculated earnings growth for U.S. companies after stripping out Apple’s blowout numbers this week is about 2 percent, which isn’t very good. The overall growth rate is 7 percent, but a huge chunk of that is Apple, he said.
MSCI’s all-country world stock index <.MIWD00000PUS>, a measure of stock performance in 45 countries, fell 0.71 percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was down 0.44 percent at 1,468.72 points.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 13.61 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,185.27. The S&P 500 <.SPX> slid 8.75 points, or 0.44 percent, to 1,993.41 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> lost 23.19 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,614.80.
Greece endured a fourth day of market jitters after Sunday’s election with its newly installed government at loggerheads with international creditors as it begins to roll back austerity measures imposed in its bailout deal.
Yields on German 10-year bund <DE10YT=TWEB>, the euro zone benchmark, fell slightly to 0.35 percent.
Yields on U.S. 10-year government bonds <US10YT=RR> rose to 1.7580 percent, with the price falling 9/32.
U.S. crude oil futures turned negative after data showed further inventory builds in energy hub Cushing, Oklahoma. U.S. crude <CLc1> fell 49 cents to $ 43.96 a barrel.
Brent <LCOc1> steadied just above break-even, up 10 cents at $ 48.57 a barrel.
Switzerland’s franc again dominated trade on major currency markets, weakening against the euro and dollar amid renewed speculation of intervention by the Swiss National Bank, while commodity-based currencies fell against the greenback.
The franc sank to 1.0430 francs per euro in morning trade in Europe <EURCHF=EBS>, by far its weakest since the SNB triggered the most violent move in a major currency in four decades by dumping its cap on the franc two weeks ago.
Against the dollar, the euro <EUR=> was last up 0.32 percent at $ 1.1322.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash)
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