Global shares struggle on Greece, China

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – World shares sank to a three-month low on Monday as concerns about Greece’s debts and a reminder of the challenges China faces to curb inflation stung risk demand, helping push the dollar to a six-month high versus a currency basket. The MSCI world equity index fell to its weakest level since early November, as investors cut exposure to risky trades while Athens scrambles to convince its European colleagues it will do what it takes to repair its finances.

A retreat in Greek bond yields helped to trim some share losses, but risk demand stayed low on speculation that China may have to tighten monetary policy, which picked up after business polls showed strong growth and higher inflation.

This kept high-risk, commodity-linked currencies under pressure, as they are seen as vulnerable to any tempering of Chinese growth, and helped lift the dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ) (.DXY: ) as high as 79.534, its highest since late July.

European shares (.FTEU3: ) slipped 0.2 percent on the day and edged close to a near two-month low hit late last week, while risk aversion also kept oil prices near a 6-week low.

“(The direction of the market) will depend on key factors such as whether or not Greece’s restructuring plan is credible, and other political factors, such as regulatory intervention in the banking sector,” said Andy Lynch, fund manager at Schroders.

By 1314 GMT, the MSCI index was at 286.09, trimming some losses suffered in earlier trade. World share prices fell roughly 4.5 percent in January, the worst monthly performance since February last year.

Risk aversion supported the dollar’s safe-haven appeal, keeping it near a seven-month high against the euro of $1.3852 hit early on Monday.

The high-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollars hit their weakest in more than a month against their U.S. counterpart.

US STOCK FUTURES UP

Stock indices pared some losses, and U.S. stock futures rose 0.6 percent on optimism that data this week, including crucial U.S. non-farm payrolls, will show the economy continues to improve, but investors remained wary of taking on positions that involve significant risk.

Markets showed limited initial reaction to U.S. President Barack Obama’s budget for the fiscal year to 2011, which forecast a record-high deficit of $1.56 trillion in 2010.

Analysts said the figure was in line with expectations but added the report was short on details of how to increase revenues while curbing federal projects, including space missions.

“This is really something that is going to have an impact on equities, rather than the dollar or Treasuries, because it’s individual areas (such as aerospace) that may be impacted,” said Marc Ostwald, currency and rates strategist at Monument Securities in London.

Risk appetite continues to be sluggish as markets wait to see if Greece will come up with a decisive plan to shore up its finances and cut its debts.

Concerns about Athens’s fiscal situation has triggered heavy selling in Greek bonds, whose yield spreads against German debt blew out to their widest levels on record last week.

The EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner said on Monday Greece’s deficit-cutting plan was ambitious but achievable, warning however that Athens may have to take extra measures to shore up its finances.

The 10-year Greek government bond yielded shot in to 336 basis points more than benchmark German Bunds in response, compared with around 360 bps late on Friday, and was well off the euro lifetime high of around 405 bps set last week.

Ten-year Bund futures were at 123.47, edging up 9 ticks from Friday’s settlement close.

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(Additional reporting by Brian Gorman in London, editing by Mike Peacock)

Global shares struggle on Greece, China