September 7, 2018 / 7:10 PM / 3 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-World stock markets fall, trade fears and rate hikes worries weigh

(Updates to afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)

By Sinéad Carew

NEW YORK, Sept 7 (Reuters) - World share indexes limped toward their worst week in almost six months on Friday and trading was volatile as investors weighed solid economic data against expectations for interest rate hikes and escalating U.S.-China trade tensions.

U.S. job growth accelerated in August and wages notched their largest annual increase in more than nine years, cementing expectations for a third U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike for the year in late September.

The U.S. dollar was boosted by the jobs growth numbers, but gains were checked by trade war fears as U.S. President Donald Trump said he could hit China with more tariffs.

After opening lower and turning positive about an hour into trading, the S&P 500 reversed course early in the afternoon after Trump threatened tariffs on a further $267 billion worth of Chinese imports while the world was still waiting to hear whether he would impose levies on $200 billion worth of goods.

Just before Trump’s comments, investors had been feeling a “little better” about the trade situation as White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump would not decide on China tariffs before officials evaluate public comments on them.

“It’s not that we have good policies or bad policies, it’s that we don’t know what the policy is. It’s very fickle,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

China has warned of retaliation if Washington launches any new measures.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.97 points, or 0.16 percent, to 25,954.9, the S&P 500 lost 2.09 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,875.96 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 5.3 points or 0.07 percent at 7917.25.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.05 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.20 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.27 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.33 percent lower hitting a 14-month low during the session.

The dollar index rose 0.36 percent, with the euro down 0.49 percent to $1.1564.

The dollar was boosted by U.S. job growth data but uncertainty over the U.S.-Chinese trade conflict held gains in check.

U.S. benchmark Treasury yields rose to their highest levels in almost a month after the higher-than-expected increase in wages raised expectations of higher inflation.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 18/32 in price to yield 2.9424 percent compared with 2.877 percent late on Thursday.

Oil prices were under pressure from a strong dollar, weakness in the equity markets, and Tropical Storm Gordon’s smaller-than-expected impact on U.S. Gulf Coast oil production.

U.S. crude rose 0.04 percent to $67.80 per barrel and Brent was last at $76.95, up 0.59 percent on the day.2.877 (Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Ayenat Mersie, David Randall in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Chizu Nomiyama)

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