GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks, euro suffer as ECB disappoints markets

Steven C. Johnson

* Stocks, euro fall as ECB disappoints markets

* Safe-haven Treasuries rise, oil slips

* Markets still expect Fed, ECB action in coming months

* U.S. jobs data due Friday, markets expect 100,000 gain

NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Global stocks and the euro

tumbled o n T hursday after the European Central Bank disappointed

investors who were hoping for immediate action to combat the

euro zone debt crisis.

The ECB signaled plans to push down borrowing costs for euro

zone countries through upcoming bond purchases, though the move

is likely weeks away.

The central bank, which said it would wait to see if the

euro zone economy slows further before cutting interest rates,

pledged last week it would do what it takes to support the euro.

The U.S. Federal Reserve took a similar wait-and-see

approach o n W ednesday and did not announce any new stimulus

measures to help revive a flagging U.S. recovery. Data on Fr iday

is expected to show the U.S. economy added 100,000 jobs in July,

not enough to lower an 8.2 percent jobless rate.

ECB President Mario Draghi "set us up like a poker room full

of suckers," said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at the

BlackBay Group in New York. "We were all expecting a

shock-and-awe moment."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 92.18

points, or 0.71 percent, at 12,878.88. The Standard & Poor's 500

Index fell 10.14 points, or 0.74 percent, to 1,365.00.

The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 10.44 points, or 0.36

percent, to 2,909.77.

The euro, which had rallied above $1.24, beat a quick

retreat to $1.2132 for its biggest one-day move in a year.

It last changed hands at $1.2178, down 0.4 percent.

Safe-haven U.S. Treasuries rose, with the benchmark 10-year

note up 12/32 to yield 1.48 percent, while Spanish

and Italian bond yields rose and European shares fell.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 1.2 percent lower

and the MSCI world stock index lost 1.0 percent.

Spanish and Italian stocks were hit

especially hard, with indexes falling around 5 percent each.

Reuters reported on Monday that the ECB was considering

re-activating its Securities Markets Programme to buy Spanish

bonds in tandem with the euro zone's rescue funds, but that

action could be at least five weeks away.

"Draghi put himself in such a difficult position," said

Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index. "There

has been a swift change in the rhetoric from 'we will' last week

to 'we may' today.

Brent crude oil settled 6 cents lower at $105.90 a barrel,

while U.S. crude fell in tandem with stocks and other

growth-sensitive assets to settle down $1.78 at $87.13. Spot

gold fell $10.25 to $1,588.30


Since Draghi surprised markets last week with a promise to

save the euro, European shares had rallied by as much as 5

percent, the euro has risen about a cent against the dollar and

yields on Italian and Spanish debt had fallen sharply.

Some, though, said the ECB president made clear that

policymakers are serious about helping indebted countries such

as Spain and Italy and stopping the crisis from worsening.

"What he said was pretty significant. He seems to have laid

the groundwork for substantial policy action," said Andrew

Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller, Tabak & Co. "It

wouldn't surprise me if we get a risk rally in the days ahead."

Stephen Jen, managing partner at SLJ Macro Partners, said

the market expected too much.

"The market demanded short-term fixes. I think this reflects

how the markets have been conditioned by the Fed's repeated

(stimulus) operations. Investors have now been reminded that

there are no quick fixes for the problems in Europe."

The Fed has been much quicker than its euro zone counterpart

to pump money into the financial system. It has already bought

assets to the tune of $2.3 trillion and pledged to keep interest

rates at zero until at least late 2014.

Though it stood pat this week, it said it was ready to act

if necessary. Investors expect it could launch another round of

bond purchases as soon as September.

The U.S. economy lost momentum in the second quarter as the

pace of hiring slowed and consumer confidence weakened.

Data Thursday showed the number of Americans filing initial

claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly in the latest

week, though less than economists had expected.

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