Stocks around the world were set for their longest losing streak in eight months on Wednesday as weaker commodities weighed and the dollar gained after U.S. data provided some surprises.

The euro turned slightly lower after the dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies following U.S. data showing a rise in retail sales data last month and an uptick in underlying inflation which cemented expectations for further U.S. interest rate hikes.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve flattened to a 10-year low after the data as fixed income investors also priced in further interest rate hikes.

"With signs that underlying inflation pressures are starting to pick back up again, we think the Fed will need to step up the pace of tightening next year, raising the Fed funds rate a total of four times in 2018," Michael Pearce, U.S. economist at Capital Economics in New York, said in a note.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was set for its fifth straight day of declines, its longest run in the red since March.

With a slide in crude oil prices, worries about the demand outlook and weaker metals prices weighing on stocks around the world, some investors took profits ahead of year end.

"We've had ten months of gains. You have a need for some sort of pullback. Down less than 1 pct is not a major move here. In my view it's a blip," said Andrew Frankel, co-president of Stuart Frankel & Co in New York.

Lifted by steady economic growth, supportive monetary policies and rising corporate earnings, global equities have rallied this year, with indexes in the United States and Europe recently scaled record highs, and Japan's Nikkei last week climbed to a 26-year peak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 80.34 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 23,329.13, the S&P 500 lost 7.84 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 2,571.03 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.52 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 6,721.35.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.35 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.39 per cent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had earlier fallen 0.7 per cent. Japan's Nikkei lost 1.6 per cent.


Oil prices were down for a fourth consecutive session but trimmed some losses after U.S. inventory figures showed an increase in refining runs and a dropoff in distillate stocks.

U.S. crude fell 0.61 per cent to US$55.36 per barrel and Brent was last at US$61.84, down 0.59 per cent on the day.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.3576 per cent, from 2.381 per cent late on Tuesday.

The 30-year bond last rose 18/32 in price to yield 2.8112 per cent, from 2.839 per cent late on Tuesday.

Base metal prices fell as China data stoked fears of a slowdown in the world's top commodities consumer, and oil and stocks declines indicating broad-based risk aversion. 

Gold reversed earlier gains after the U.S. data. Spot gold dropped 0.2 per cent to US$1,278.18 an ounce.