GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro slides, stocks falter on debt concerns

* Euro hits all-time low versus Swiss franc, Aussie dollar
* Stocks trade flat on fresh euro-zone credit worries
* Oil seesaws after equity markets pare gains
* Bonds rise on safety bid before Federal Reserve purchase
(Updates with close of European markets)

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, Dec 20 (BestGrowthStock) – The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) broadly on
Monday on fears of further credit rating downgrades in Europe
while global stocks wavered as investors fled from riskier
assets to the safety of bonds and gold.

The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) to a session low beneath $1.31 after Moody’s
said it may cut the ratings on some Spanish banks. For
details see: [ID:nN2086700]

The euro slid to record lows against the Swiss franc and
Australian dollar as traders fretted over Europe’s debt
problems. Investors already were skittish after last week,
when Moody’s downgraded Ireland’s credit rating by five
notches.

Speculation that France and Belgium may also face possible
cuts in their credit ratings also rattled investors.

The euro (EUR=: ) slid beneath $1.31 to a session low of
$1.3096, according to Reuters data.

“Credit ratings are eroding across much of the common
currency zone as debt continues to increase and economic
growth remains anemic,” said Karl Schamotta, senior market
strategist at Western Union Business Solutions in Victoria,
British Columbia.

World stocks pared gains to trade close to flat even as
European stocks hit a 27-month closing high, with miners
rising on buoyant metal prices and utilities catching up with
the rest of recent gains in the equity markets.

The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares
rose 0.6 percent to end the day at 1,133.43 points, the
highest close since September 2008 when Lehman Brothers
collapsed.

Regional European utilities, which had been among the
weakest performers in 2010, gained, led by GDF Suez (GSZ.PA: ),
Iberdrola (IBE.MC: ) and Endesa (ELE.MC: ).

“The markets may be saying that the euro-zone debts are a
sovereign issue now, not a systemic issue,” said Richard
Batty, strategist at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh,
citing plans for a safety net to be set up in 2013.

Stocks on Wall Street traded near break-even.

At 1:00 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was
down 13.10 points, or 0.11 percent, at 11,478.81. The Standard
& Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) was up 3.33 points, or 0.27 percent,
at 1,247.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 7.21
points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,650.18.

U.S. equity investors were reluctant to push stocks higher
after a run of solid economic data, which has pushed the
benchmark S&P 500 index up 5.4 percent for the month and up
11.6 percent year-to-date.

“We are a little elevated here. We’ve got a little bit of
a nosebleed going,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director
at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

Crude oil zigged higher and lower, driven by expiration of
a January futures contract at day’s end on the downside and
freezing U.S. and European temperatures on the upside.
[ID:nL3E6NK0F5]

U.S. crude for January delivery (CLc1: ) rose 40 cents to
$88.42 a barrel.

ICE Brent for February (LCOc1: ) rose 42 cents to $92.09.

“We expect the oil market to continue with its sideways
drift towards year-end, albeit with some weakness likely to
emerge in January,” said James Zhang from Standard Bank,
expressing concerns about the European debt crisis.

U.S. Treasury prices rose on the Federal Reserve’s bond
purchases and safe-haven demand spurred by worries about
Europe’s fiscal problems and heightened tension on the Korean
peninsula. [ID:nN20183904]

The Fed bought nearly $8 billion in government debt
maturing in eight to 10 years. The U.S. central bank will
target issues due December 2014 to May 2016 worth up to $8
billion later on Monday. See [ID:nTAR001234] [FED/]

German bund prices also rose as investors sought to reduce
risk ahead of the year-end and Korean tensions.
[ID:nLDE6BJ1M3]

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note (US10YT=RR: ) was
up 5/32 in price to yield 3.311 percent.

The euro (EURCHF=EBS: ) fell to 1.2678 Swiss francs on EBS
trading platform, its weakest since the euro’s launch in 1999.
The Swiss currency was helped by safe-haven buying.

The euro (EUR=: ) was down 0.46 percent at $1.3119 against
the dollar, which was up against a basket of major currencies.
The U.S. Dollar Index (.DXY: ) gained 0.28 percent to 80.598.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar (JPY=: ) was down 0.24
percent at 83.75.

The flight to safety pushed gold up for a second day, as
the metal overcame the euro’s weakness after a warning from
the European Central Bank on the region’s finances encouraged
light safe-haven flows into bullion.

Spot gold prices (XAU=: ) rose $8.65 to $1,383.30 an ounce.
(Reporting by Steven C. Johnson, Richard Leong, Edward Krudy
in New York; Brian Gorman, Dmitry Zhdannikov and Naomi Tajitsu
in London; Writing by Herbert Lash; Editing by Jan Paschal)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro slides, stocks falter on debt concerns