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Stocks fall on global growth concerns, dollar slips

A man, holding a mobile phone, walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, December 1, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets fell on Friday, pulled lower by concerns about slumping crude oil prices and whether they signal slower growth, while the dollar slipped against the yen on views the Bank of Japan may not ease policy as much as expected.

Equity investors were cautious in the wake of the euphoria that followed the U.S. Federal Reserve's first interest rate hike in almost a decade earlier in the week. But trading in crude oil and the bond market was volatile.

The yen gained after the BoJ merely tweaked its monthly asset-purchase programme. The move put a pause in the dollar, which rose in recent months on views that the Fed's likely decision to raise rates and the BoJ's path of more potential stimulus would drive investment into higher-yielding U.S. assets.

"The BoJ's move shows a weak hand," said Jens Nordvig, global head of FX strategy at Nomura in New York. "It suggests the BoJ is out of ammunition, and will not be able to deliver anything meaningful going forward," he said.

The dollar, which had hit a more than two-week high of 123.590 yen, fell 1.01 percent to 121.31 (JPY=).

The euro rose 0.27 percent against the dollar at $1.0854 (EUR=). The dollar index (.DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, fell 0.51 percent at 98.768.

Equities suffered from fatigue after markets rose in anticipation of the Fed move, while the slumping price of oil was driving investor sentiment on concerns over global growth and a growing supply surplus.

"We had a couple of strong days as a result of the Fed," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market strategist at Interactive Brokers LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"The market is getting sucked into a fear trade," he said. "It's really oil - is it a glut or a global slowdown? But I don't think it's symbolizing a slowdown in the global economy."

MSCI's all-country world stock index (.MIWD00000PUS) fell 1.0 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) of leading European shares closed down 1.05 percent at 1,419.35.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) fell 286.08 points, or 1.64 percent, to 17,209.76. The S&P 500 (.SPX) slid 25.08 points, or 1.23 percent, to 2,016.81 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) lost 55.63 points, or 1.11 percent, to 4,946.92.

Oil reversed early gains to fall 1 percent after the U.S. oil rig count rose for the first time in five weeks. Seventeen additional rigs in the week ended Friday came despite continued weak crude prices and suggests no end in sight to supply glut.

Crude oil retreated following a rebound of almost 1 percent after the U.S. benchmark traded well below $35 a barrel.

Global benchmark Brent crude (LCOc1) fell 18 cents to settle at $36.88 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures (CLc1) settled down 22 cents at $34.73 a barrel, the second day in almost seven years it closed below $35.

Prices on U.S. Treasuries rose in choppy trading on rising investor skepticism over the Fed's ability to raise interest rates as much as it would like next year.

The decline in crude and tumbling stock markets encouraged investors to seek the relative safety of U.S. government debt. The slide in oil prices suggests inflation will remain benign.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 10/32 in price to yield 2.2005 percent.


(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler and Chizu Nomiyama)