* Weak Chinese, Japanese data hurt U.S., European stocks
* ECB’s Nowotny fuels QE expectations with stark warning
* Oil price hits five-year low on view of oversupply
* U.S., German government bonds get lift on growth worries (Updates market action; dateline previously LONDON)
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. and European stocks fell on Monday after weak Chinese and Japanese data stoked worries about slowing global economic growth, while oil prices sank to five-year lows on expectations of oversupply into 2015.
The euro sagged to 2-1/2-year lows against the dollar after European Central Bank policymaker Ewald Nowotny’s warned of a “massive weakening” of the euro zone economy and said the purchase of state bonds could provide a boost. His comments came just days after Standard and Poor’s downgraded its credit rating on Italy, the bloc’s third largest economy, to a level just above junk status.
Nowotny’s remarks raised bets in the bond market for a fresh round of ECB stimulus in the first quarter of 2015.
Data out of Asia also took a toll on sentiment. Japan reported its third-quarter economic contraction was deeper than previously thought, while China’s unexpectedly weak import data signaled slowing demand in the world’s second biggest economy.
The disappointing economic developments abroad overshadowed Friday’s robust U.S. jobs report, which revived bets the Federal Reserve might consider ending its near-zero interest rate policy in mid-2015.
Even so, Wall Street stocks proved to be fairly resilient.
“The other side of it, too, is many of these other countries are taking some efforts to stimulate as well. People are looking at is as temporary, and somewhere down the line as those economies get stronger, everybody will be in pretty good shape,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois
In early U.S. trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.52 points, or 0.03 percent, to 17,953.27, the S&P 500 slipped 0.88 point, or 0.04 percent, to 2,074.49, and the Nasdaq Composite shed 9.00 points, or 0.19 percent, to 4,789.75. \
The FTSEurofirst 300 fell 0.6 percent to 1,396.79, while Toyko’s Nikkei eked out a 0.08 percent gain.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, fell 1.21 points, or 0.28 percent, to 423.54.
In the currency market, the euro fell to a more than 2-1/2-year low against the greenback at $1.2247 before rebounding to $1.2292 in U.S. trading.
The dollar also retreated against the yen and other major currencies as traders booked some profits on the greenback’s recent gains linked to expectations the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates sooner in 2015 than had been expected.
The dollar was down 0.5 percent at 120.80 yen.
Bets on a fresh round of ECB stimulus in the first quarter of 2015 helped boost the prices of U.S. and German government bonds. Benchmark 10-year U.S. yields fell 2.29 percent and 10-year Bund yields declined to 0.72 percent .
In the energy market, Brent crude fell more than $2 a barrel to a five-year low of $66.35 on predictions that oversupply would keep building until next year after OPEC decided not to cut output.
Spot gold prices edged up 0.07 percent at $1,192.44 an ounce on some safe-haven demand on the modest losses in U.S. and European equity prices. (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; John Geddie, Patrick Graham in London; Blaise Robinson in Paris; and the China economics team; Editing by Leslie Adler)