World Stocks Poised For Another Weekly Loss

Reuters

World stocks headed for their fifth weekly loss out of the past six on Friday, depressed by concerns about a slowing global economy and by Europe's ongoing struggle to control Greek debt.

The euro slipped against the dollar despite the European Central Bank's all-but-official confirmation that it will raise interest rates in July.

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Brent oil hit a five week high and U.S. crude was over $120 a barrel in the aftermath of OPEC's failure to agree an output hike.

MSCI's all-country world stock index was down a quarter of a percent, losing more than 6 percent over six weeks and gaining only 1.5 percent for the year to date.

Some worries about the state of the world economy were assuaged on Thursday by better-than-expected U.S. trade deficit data, which may imply stronger second-quarter growth than expected.

But the higher oil price, euro zone debt troubles and a generally defensive stance by many investors pull stocks lower.

"Even though in our base scenario we still believe that this is a temporary slowdown and that economic growth will pick up later in the year, the markets will continue to be nervous and volatile in the meantime," said Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets in Brussels.

Stresses in the euro zone remained firmly in place, despite moves by Greece to institute a new austerity plan and some progress among euro zone leaders to agree a new bail out.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet appeared to be at loggerheads with Germany over the role that private investors might play in some kind of refinancing of Greek debt.

The FTSEurofirst 300 stock index was down 0.4 percent. Earlier Japan's Nikkei closed up half a percent.

EURO WEAKER

The euro struggled to keep its footing as the worries about debt problems overwhelmed any support from a likely interest rate rise by the European Central Bank next month.

"The image of European policymakers and the ECB standing toe to toe on this particular issue is something investors find deeply unsettling," said Michael Derks, chief strategist at FXPro.

The euro was down a third of a percent at $1.4456.

Core euro zone debt was generally a bit stronger, but there was more pressure on the periphery.

The premium investors demand to hold Spanish and other lower-rated government bonds rather than benchmark German Bunds rose.

The Spanish/German 10-year government bond yield spread rose 10 basis points to 252 basis points, the equivalent Italian spread was 6 bps wider on the day at 184.

(Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Nia Williams; Editing by Toby Chopra)

(This story is corrected to show U.S. oil price in paragraph 3 to over $102, not over $120)