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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks tick higher; euro retreats before ECB meet

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* U.S. crude oil trades below $90, near 2013 low * MSCI world share index just under June 2008 high * Euro dips as traders mull ECB rate cut chances By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK, March 6 (Reuters) - The blue chip Dow Jones index extended its record-breaking run on Wednesday, but world stock markets showed signs of weakness despite strong gains in Asia, while the euro slid against the dollar a day before a European Central Bank meeting. U.S. data showing a steady manufacturing sector and surprisingly strong gains in private employment supported equity markets, but major indexes weakened as investors questioned the strength of the rally. The dollar extended gains against both the euro and the yen. Concerns that the ECB at its policy meeting on Thursday may signal future interest-rate cuts pressured the euro. The Bank of Japan will also meet this week, beginning a two-day meeting on Thursday, but it is expected to hold its fire this week. The market is turning its attention to the BoJ's April 3-4 meeting, the first policy review under its new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, who is an advocate of aggressive monetary easing. The MSCI world index was up less than 0.1 percent. "When everybody hears that the market is at new highs, the smarter money starts to shift out and makes a profit by selling to people who are looking to get in," Central Markets senior broker Joe Neighbour said. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20.4 points or 0.14 percent, to 14,274.17, the S&P 500 lost 0.71 points or 0.05 percent, to 1,539.08 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.68 points or 0.15 percent, to 3,219.45. The Dow hit a record intraday high and the broader S&P 500 was 1.5 percent away from its all-time closing record. The pan-European ESTOXX 50 slipped 0.1 percent and the FTSEurofirst 300 fell 0.3 percent. The Nikkei hit a 4-1/2-year high helped by a record closing on Wall Street on Tuesday and prospects of a reflationary policy in Japan to revive growth. EURO, TREASURIES WEAKEN Better-than-expected U.S. jobs figures dented the allure of Treasuries ahead of the government's closely watched monthly payrolls report on Friday. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 8/32, the yield at 1.9237 percent. "I would not say we're headed toward a robust pace anytime soon, but I do think it's encouraging that the economy seems to be gathering a little more steam," said Russell T. Price, senior economist with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc in Troy, Michigan. The euro fell against the U.S. dollar ahead of the ECB meeting and the remarks afterwards by ECB President Mario Draghi. "The focus is tomorrow's ECB meeting, where interest rates are expected to remain on hold at 0.75 percent. However, there is wide debate about President Draghi's tone during the press conference," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. "We expect the ECB to ultimately turn more dovish, but that it occurs in April not tomorrow." The euro was down 0.5 percent against the greenback at $1.2989. As expected, official data confirmed the euro zone ended the year in its second recession since 2009. Eurostat data showed Germany, the bloc's biggest economy, grew in the quarter, though at a crawl. France, Spain and Italy, the other three big economies of the euro zone, all contracted. Copper turned lower after a two-day rebound, weighed by uncertainty about metals demand in China, the world's top consumer, and economic growth in Europe. Three-month copper fell 1 percent to $7,698 a ton, erasing initial gains that took it above $7,800. Areas of concern for the global economy remain, including the Chinese government's move to cool the country's overheated property market, the possible economic impact of U.S. spending cuts and political deadlock in Italy. Brent oil fell 0.7 percent, below $111 a barrel, while U.S. crude hovered near $90, down 0,8 percent. U.S. crude oil inventories rose more than forecast last week while distillates stocks fell more than expected as refinery utilization rates posted a surprise drop, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday. Gold was slightly higher on expectations central banks would maintain loose monetary policy but prices were capped as investors favored higher-yielding assets on the back of strong U.S. economic data. Spot gold edged up 0.2 percent to $1,578.85 an ounce.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130306/global-markets-stocks-tick-higher-euro-retreats-ecb-meet