LONDON (Reuters) - World share markets fell and the dollar and safe-haven assets rose on Thursday, a day after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting cast doubts over how much longer the U.S. central bank would stick to its stimulus plan.
After the minutes were released the euro skidded to a six-week low against the dollar of $1.3235, Asian shares experienced their worst day in seven months and gold hit its lowest price since last July, at $1,554.49 an ounce.
"Disagreement over the current path is causing concern for a market that demands certainty," Ben Taylor, a trader at CMC Markets, said of evidence Fed officials were divided on policy.
MSCI's world equity index <.miwd00000pus>, which only on Wednesday had touched a 4-1/2 year high, fell 0.5 percent as the benchmark S&P 500 index <.spx> suffered its steepest daily percentage decline since mid-November.
European markets joined in the selloff with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> shedding 0.5 percent, led lower by the banks <.sxip>, which have been at forefront of recent gains. London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> were all down as much as 0.7 percent.
However, market sentiment could get some support from the release of first reading from February Purchasing Managers' Indexes (PMIs) from across Europe later in the day.
The euro-zone composite PMI is expected to have risen for a fourth consecutive month in February to around 49.0, adding to evidence that economic conditions across the recession-hit region are gradually improving.
The PMI reading would still leave the composite index below the 50 mark which separates expansion from contraction and analysts estimate it would be consistent with a small fall in GDP for a fourth consecutive quarter.
In the fixed income market, German bonds, normally considered a safe haven, saw prices rise with the main Bund futures contract up 30 ticks to 142.85. The move reversed a fall seen on Wednesday but kept the contract within a narrow band before an Italian general election this weekend.
Spain was set to test market sentiment for peripheral euro zone debt with the sale of up to four billion euros of new paper.
The dollar followed up a big gain on Wednesday against a basket of major currencies to add a further 0.1 percent, although it dipped slightly against the yen to 93.41.
Among commodities, London copper struck its lowest in nearly two months, at $7,880 a metric ton, while crude oil extended losses after posting its biggest daily fall so far this year on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Richard Hubbard; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)
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