NEW YORK (May 31): Global equity markets edged slightly lower on Friday as fears that growth expectations are too high offset mostly solid economic data, while the dollar eased on the likelihood the European Central Bank will deliver monetary stimulus next week.

Wall Street fell and a measure of global equities slid after hitting its highest level in more than six years on Thursday, though that was still 2 percent below its lifetime high.

“There’s nothing I can really point to here that would lead you to believe that the market is going to move either way,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York.

U.S. consumer spending fell for the first time in a year in April, but the decline, which followed two months of solid gains, did not change expectations for a sharp rebound in economic growth this quarter.

Other data on Friday showed U.S. consumer sentiment slipped in May as households worried about income. But a surge in factory activity in the Midwest confirmed growth was bouncing back after a weather-induced contraction in the first quarter.

“What we are seeing in the equity markets recently is the battle between this hope for higher earnings growth and the growing realization, on the back of a weak first quarter and very negative corporate guidance, that the growth expectations are overblown,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.

MSCI’s all-country world equity index fell 0.2 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares closed down 0.1 percent at 1,377.46.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.02 points, or 0.18 percent, to 16,668.72. The S&P 500 lost 1.66 points, or 0.09 percent, to 1,918.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 17.108 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,230.839.

The dollar eased against other major currencies as traders tidied up books at month’s end and warily awaited potentially market-moving meetings next week by the ECB.

The dollar, as tracked by the U.S. dollar index of a half dozen currency pairs, traded softer in a tight range and was last off 0.16 percent at 80.366.

The euro rose 0.27 percent to $ 1.3638.

Benchmark U.S. Treasuries yields rose as the investor demand that stoked May’s bond rally faded and on a surprise increase in U.S. Midwest business activities in March, supporting the view of a solid economic rebound in the second quarter.

The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries was last at 2.4679, with the bond price up 6/32.

German bond prices fell, tracking a decline in Treasuries, after Federal Reserve policymaker Esther George said late on Thursday that interest rates should be raised more steeply than many in the market now expect.

George, president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, repeated her view that the Fed should start to raise interest rates shortly after it ends its program of asset purchases.

German 10-year yields, the benchmark for euro zone borrowing, rose 3 basis points to a day’s high of 1.33 percent.

Brent crude oil slipped below $ 110 a barrel but stayed close to the top of its price range over the last three months, underpinned by supply worries and evidence of strong oil demand in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer.

Brent crude was down 50 cents at $ 109.47 a barrel. U.S. light crude oil slipped 90 cents to $ 102.68. – Reuters

Business & Markets

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