World stocks stabilise below recent highs

LONDON Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:03pm IST

Traders concentrate on their screens at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Domanski/Files

Traders concentrate on their screens at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Domanski/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks held steady below this week's 8-month peak on Friday while the dollar fell broadly as concerns about growth in China and the euro zone and a renewed focus on sovereign debt problems in Italy and Spain kept investors cautious.

Italy was expected to come under scrutiny when it releases retail sales data at 0900 GMT, with investors already eyeing a planned bond sales next week as a possible flashpoint. Growth is an essential component of plans in the peripheral euro zone countries to reduce high debt levels.

The MSCI world equity index was largely steady on the day, having hit its highest level in nearly 8 months earlier this week. The rally has stalled on the back of weak factory activity data in China and the euro zone, which has somewhat undermined faith in the pace of a global upturn.

"After impressive gains over the last months, the recent losses are not more than a drop in a bucket. Hence investors have enough reason to remain calm," said Roger Peeters, a market strategist at Close Brothers Seydler Bank.

European stocks were steady to slightly higher on the day, while emerging stocks fell 0.2 percent.

Brent oil was up 0.3 percent at $123.54 a barrel.

Bund futures were down 10 ticks.

The dollar fell 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies. The yen fell 0.4 percent to 82.85, slowly inching back towards this year's low of 84.19 hit earlier in March.

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