Fed rate hike fears weigh on stocks as Greece dogs euro

AP News
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Posted: Mar 10, 2015 8:27 AM
Fed rate hike fears weigh on stocks as Greece dogs euro

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets fell sharply while the dollar spiked further against the euro Tuesday as traders fretted about the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates. Renewed concerns over Greece further weighed on Europe's single currency.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 1.1 percent at 4,884 while Germany's DAX fell 1.2 percent to shed 0.3 percent to 11,553. Britain's FTSE 100 was 1.4 percent lower at 6,779. U.S stocks were also poised for sharp falls at the bell, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures 0.9 percent.

FED WORRIES: Last Friday's forecast-busting U.S. jobs data for February continue to reverberate around markets as traders think it's now getting more likely that the U.S. Federal Reserve will bring forward the timing of its first interest rate hike since the 2008 global financial crisis to June. Ultra-low interest rates and other monetary stimulus have been a boon for stock markets for several years as investors sought higher returns. But a return to more normal levels for interest rates in the world's biggest economy might spell an end to the bull market for stocks.

ANALYST TAKE: "Regardless of whether the Fed hikes in June or September, it's coming and it's not very far away," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "That makes the dollar very strong compared to its peers." On Tuesday, the euro fell 0.9 percent at a fresh near 12-year low of $1.0747. The dollar was flat against the yen at 112.35 yen.

GREEK FEARS BACK: The euro was further hampered by fears over the financial future of Greece. A meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday failed to yield much of a breakthrough on the country's reform plans, which have to be agreed to by creditors for Greece to get vital bailout cash. "The Greek government is pushing the envelope with its creditors and the market is scared by the prospect of another long drawn-out debt negotiation," said David Madden, market analyst at IG.

CREDIT SUISSE'S NEW BOSS: Shares in Credit Suisse surged after the Swiss bank sought to turn the page on a period of scandals and fines by replacing its CEO, Brady W. Dougan, with the head of British insurer Prudential, Tidjane Thiam. Credit Suisse shares were up 7.5 percent on the news at 24.90 francs per share.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 percent to 18,665.11 despite the yen weakening against the dollar, which usually helps export stocks. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.4 percent to 1,984.77. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.9 percent to 23,896.98. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added nearly 0.1 percent to 5,824.20. Southeast Asian markets were mixed and India's benchmark dropped.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 34 cents to $49.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, dropped 70 cents to $57.83 a barrel in London.