(Updates market action; changes dateline, previous LONDON)
* MSCI global stock index on track for seven months of gains
* Safe-haven bids support gold, bonds at month-end
* Oil prices hit 3-week lows on anxiety about supply glut
* Chinese yuan jumps to highest in over six months
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, May 31 Major stock markets around the
globe fell on Wednesday but were on track to book moderate gains
for May, while the sterling fell as conflicting poll results
stoked worries whether the ruling Conservatives could lose seats
in next week's U.K. general election.
MSCI's global equity index, which tracks 45
stock markets, fell nearly 0.1 percent on Wednesday, paring its
month-to-date gain to 1.8 percent. The index was on course for
seven months of gains, which would be its longest monthly
winning streak in over a decade.
The diminished appeal of stocks on Wednesday stoked
safe-haven bids for gold and low-risk U.S. and German government
Oil prices declined to a three-week low as news of a rebound
in Libyan production exacerbated worries about a global
oversupply despite OPEC's pact to extend output cuts last week.
"Risk appetite is pretty light today," said Ellis Phifer,
senior market strategist at Raymond James in Memphis, Tennessee.
In late U.S. morning trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
fell 18.21 points, or 0.09 percent, to 21,011.26, the S&P
500 lost 2.35 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,410.56 and
the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.05 points, or 0.19
percent, to 6,191.14.
On the other hand, Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index
edged up 0.25 percent, at 1,537.42 after a sharp fall
in euro zone inflation led investors to believe the European
Central Bank will not be quite as hawkish at its policy meeting
next week than had originally been expected.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were down
1 basis point at 2.203 percent, a near two-week low, while
10-year German Bund yields hit 0.286 percent, the
lowest in over five weeks.
The biggest mover in currencies was sterling, which shed as
much as 0.5 percent after a YouGov poll showed the ruling
Conservative Party might lose 20 of the 330 seats it holds while
the opposition Labour Party could gain nearly 30 seats in a
national election on June 8.
Sterling fell to a six-week low of $1.2770 before
recovering some ground to $1.2838. It also slipped to 0.8749
pound per euro, near Friday's eight-week low of
The dollar fell 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies
following weaker-than-forecast data on pending home
Meanwhile, the yuan jumped to its strongest in
more than 6 months on bets the Chinese central bank is now less
inclined to allow the currency to weaken markedly against the
In commodities, Brent crude was last down $1.94, or
3.74 percent, at $49.90 a barrel. U.S. crude was last
down $1.83, or 3.69 percent, at $47.83 per barrel.
Spot gold prices rose $4.45 or 0.35 percent, to
$1,267.16 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever, Ritvik Carvolho in
London; Editing by Chris Reese)