NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro fell on Tuesday as worry over the threat to the world economy posed by the U.S. “fiscal cliff” offset optimism from a deal to ease Greece’s debt burden, though stocks managed slight gains as investors showed guarded optimism.
Shares globally were mostly positive and safe-haven German bonds fell after global lenders reached a new deal to reduce Greece’s debt and release loans needed to keep the country afloat.
But as Democrats and Republicans prepared to resume budget negotiations in Washington, investors re-evaluated risk. President Barack Obama will launch a multipronged push this week to garner support for his proposals on avoiding sharp tax increases and spending cuts that will otherwise take effect at the beginning of 2013 and could hurt economic growth.
U.S. data failed to allay concerns in currency markets. A gauge of planned U.S. business spending increased by the most in five months in October, but a fourth straight month of declines in shipments underscored the damage inflicted by fears of tighter fiscal policy next year.
“Now that Greece is out of the picture for the moment, the U.S. fiscal slope is front and center,” said Christopher Vecchio, Currency Analyst at DailyFX in New York.
The euro touched $1.3009 earlier in the global day, its highest level since October 31, but lost momentum as caution set back in. It was last down 0.3 percent at $1.2937.
Michael Hintze, founder and CEO of hedge fund CQS, told a Reuters summit he expected the euro zone to continue muddling through its troubles. But he added that “the chances of misstepping on the way through are pretty high.”
After 12 hours of talks, international lenders decided on steps to cut Greece’s debt to 124 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 and promised further measures to lower it below 110 percent in 2022.
Following months of jockeying, the deal was broadly expected by markets and clears the way for Greece’s euro zone neighbors and the International Monetary Fund to disburse almost 35 billion euros of aid next month.
But with doubts about Greece’s ability to hit its growth and debt-reduction targets, few analysts expect the latest agreement to be the final chapter in the euro zone’s three-year crisis.
Still, stocks, at least for now, focused on the positive.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 11.94 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,955.43. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.67 point, or 0.05 percent, at 1,406.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.56 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,978.34.
The MSCI index of global stocks was last up 0.1 percent. European shares on the FTSEurofirst 300 index were up 0.3 percent and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.6 percent to a near three-week high.
Safe-haven German government bonds fell following the Greek deal, with benchmark Bunds yields at 1.437 percent. Ten-year Greek yields were last at 15.833 percent.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 3/32, the yield at 1.6557 percent.
“Too much (of the deal) has been anticipated, It’s not a real game-changer. We expect some upside pressure on Bund yields but not a sustained sell-off,” said Michael Leister, a senior rate strategist at Commerzbank in London.
“(The Greek deal) is not the green light for a sustained rally for risk assets across the board. As we’ve seen before, once the market starts scrutinizing some of the details, some doubts may well arise,” he added.
Uneasiness about U.S. and Greek finances were offset by the encouraging data on the U.S. economy.
U.S. consumer confidence rose to a four-and-a-half-year high in November as consumers became more optimistic about the economic outlook, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.
The Greek agreement boost copper to a three-week high before it gave up gains, while Brent crude retreated to around $110 a barrel as Greek optimism was countered by worries over the looming U.S. fiscal situation. U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.2 percent to $87.54.
After an initial post-Greek deal jump, gold fell to $1,745.21 an ounce, down 0.2 percent.
Reporting by Nick Olivari Additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Marc Jones and Emelia Sithole-Matarise in London; Editing by Dan Grebler