Investors remain nervous about world markets

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Published: May 17,2010

Tags: global markets, investing, stocks and bonds

NEW YORK — Stock futures traded in a narrow range today as investors remain cautious about the health of Europe’s economy.

The euro, used by 16 countries in Europe, fell to a four-year low, though major European stock indexes rose. Investors are grappling with whether severe budget cuts in countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal will drag Europe into a recession.

The austerity measures are being implemented as part of a nearly $1 trillion bailout program the European Union and International Monetary Fund agreed to last week. The rescue package provides European countries facing mounting debt problems access to cheap loans.

The euro fell to as low as $1.2237 early today, before rebounding slightly to $1.2322.

The plunging euro has been driving trading around the globe in recent days. The weakness in the euro has helped boost the value of safe-haven investments like the dollar, Treasurys and gold. It has also driven oil sharply lower.

Oil prices briefly fell below $70 a barrel for the first time since February. Oil is priced in dollars so a stronger dollar deters investment in oil.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 9, or 0.1 percent, to 10,618. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 2.40, or 0.2 percent, to 1,167.70, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 2.75, or 0.1 percent, to 1,912.50.

Bond prices dipped today. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.47 percent from 3.46 percent late Friday.

Gold fell $1.80 to $1,226.00 an ounce.

Oil for June delivery rose 20 cents to $71.81 a barrel. It fell as low as $69.82 earlier in the day.

Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 2.2 percent.

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